Now, you may be thinking it’s more than a stretch to see the Yankees trading for any big name players this season, especially Joe Mauer. However, the possibility of seeing Mauer in pinstripes isn’t as unlikely as you might think.
Reality: Mauer is coming off his MVP season and with the Twins entering brand new Target Field and Joe Nathan going down with an elbow injury (likely for the season), the Minnesota front office is in desperate need for Mauer to ‘wow’ the crowd early in the season. Mauer batted .365 with 28 HR and 96 RBI last season as he won MVP, his second Gold Glove, and his third Silver Slugger Award. The 26-year-old catcher is entering the final year of his contract with his hometown club, and many people believe he will resign. Despite all of these facts pointing Mauer back to the Twins and signing a new contract, there are still a few factors that leave the Twins in doubt.
Reports have it that the Twins have already offered Mauer around a $20 mil/year deal, which he has not accepted. Jim Souhan of the StarTribune says that Mauer and his agent, Ron Shapiro, may push towards $25 mil/year or more. In this case, the Twins may not be able to afford that type of contract. Mauer has made $6.25 and $10.5 mil over the past 2 seasons, and will make $12.5 mil this upcoming season. [Doesn't this story sound familiar for the Twins? Yes, of course Yankee fans recall the Johan Santana to the Mets deal! Just a year removed from his Cy Young season, Santana was traded to the Mets for "soon-to-be-superstar" Carlos Gomez, "star in the making" Phillip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. Santana's deal looked very similar to Mauer's before he was traded ($8.75 and $13 mil)].
Possibilities: So what would it take for the Twins to even consider trading Mauer away? Think about this: The Yankees trade 20-year old catcher Jesus Montero, who supposedly isn’t the world’s greatest defensive catcher, a reliever with closer-type stuff, and a few other players thrown in. Joe Nathan has just gone down with a torn ligament in his elbow, and will likely be out for the season, and the Twins were the favorite to win the AL Central this season before he went down. He’ll be 36 after his contract expires next season, and who knows how he’ll respond to whatever injury he’s dealing with right now? So why wouldn’t the Twins want to get a cheap young gun who can save games? (not saying he’d be as good as Nathan, but hopefully better than Jon Rauch or Matt Guerrier).
If the Yankees could work out a deal to give Minnesota Jesus Montero, say a David Robertson, and a few throw in’s like a Kevin Whelan or Jonathan Albaladejo, wouldn’t it be worth it? I mean, let’s face it: Jorge Posada is nearing the end of the rope as the Yankee catcher, as his age is quickly catching up to him, as well as this being the last year of his contract. Minnesota could see Montero quickly becoming their catcher of the near future, and someone like the continuously-improving Robertson to secure the back end of the bullpen, along with a few other pitchers to help their uncertain bullpen for the future.
Even if you don’t think this would happen in a million years, it’s alright to dream, isn’t it?