Probably for the past year or two fans have been looking toward the 2010/11 offseason when Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer would become a free agent. Some salavated over the possibility of adding Mauer, some cringed at the possible price tag, a few Yankees fans shrugged it off.
The fans in the final group didn’t shrug it off because of any indifference towards Mauer’s skills, but instead because they were the ones who knew about Jesus Montero and figured he’d be, if not ready, very close to being major league ready at the same time. Yes, we were anticipating an offseason where the Yankees weren’t tossing money at the biggest free agent.
Now it appears that Montero is at risk of being dealt for Roy Halladay in the upcoming weeks and that could be very costly, at least in terms of dollars, for the Yankees. Maybe in the short term, adding Halladay could mean big dividends for the Yankees, but it would set up another offseason of the Yankees spending possibly upto half a billion dollars again.
Mark Teixeira signed for $180 million, but that could be chump change compared to Joe Mauer who will hit the market at a younger age than Tex and at a more premium position. At the same time all the big spenders will be looking for a catcher. The Yankees will be interested, the Red Sox will have both Jason Varitek and Victor Martinez coming off their books, the Angels could look to upgrade, and the Mets will probably be interested as well.
That all sets the Yankees up for the perfect storm. Sure the Yankees have a few decent catching options in their minor leagues, but this is the Yankees we’re talking about and Austin Romine, while he is a very good prospect himself, is not Montero. The others are further away and are not nearly guaranteed enough to keep them from spending big dollars on Mauer.
I’m sure Brian Cashman knows this and I thought it would keep him from dealing Montero even for Halladay. But as we get deeper into this winter, I can’t help but feel Montero becomes more and more vulnerable. Once you realize that there are four ace quality starting pitchers on the market at the same time, Hallday, Cliff Lee, Josh Beckett, and Brandon Webb, you realize it could be a very expensive winter for the Yankees a year from now.