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Updated: November 11th, 2013 10:34am
Twins announce that Joe Mauer will move to first base next season

Twins announce that Joe Mauer will move to first base next season

by Derek Wetmore
1500ESPN.com
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Joe Mauer will move out from behind the plate starting next season.

The Twins on Monday announced that the former catcher will now be the team's first baseman, citing a "consultation with doctors from Mayo Clinic and team doctors, and given the inherent risks of future injury at the catcher position."

He took a foul tip off the mask in a game August 19. He was then placed on the 7-day concussion list and never returned. He is now symptom free, according to the release "and beginning his regular off-season workouts with no restrictions."

Mauer's bat is an asset regardless what position he plays, the concussion that forced him from the lineup was a significant blow to the Twins' offense down the stretch. Conventional wisdom suggests that a concussion is more likely to occur as a catcher than as a first baseman.

Of course, that doens't guarantee he will not be concussed again -- first baseman Justin Morneau had concussion derail his career -- but the Twins apparently feel it's the percentage play.

Many stats-heady folks have argued that his value is higher at catcher because his defense is well above average and his bat is significantly better than other catchers, whereas his offensive numbers don't stand out as much among first baseman.

The most important thing for the Twins and Mauer, however, is to keep him healthy and keep his bat in the lineup. If there's a better chance of that happening at first base, the position switch is the right call. 

His ceiling is higher as a catcher because he stands out more amongst his peers. But if his floor is also higher and he's under contract through the 2018 season at $23 million annually, the Twins are wise to take the safer route on his high-level production. 

By the way, the Twins still have plenty of money to spend this offseason, and Mauer's relatively big contract won't hinder their ability to flex their financial muscles. 

He has played in 56 career games at first and has four errors in 536 chances.

What do you think? Would you rather see Mauer stay behind the dish, or is this the right move for the Twins and Mauer's career?

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for 1500ESPN.com. His previous stops include MLB.com and the Minnesota Daily.
Email Derek | @DerekWetmore
In this story: Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau
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