MINNEAPOLIS – If there’s a competitive club out there with its eyes on the postseason and hopeful of acquiring a veteran first baseman, don’t expect the Minnesota Twins to be proactive in shopping Joe Mauer. And if one of those teams called Minnesota, well, the front office would sit down with No. 7 and get input from Mauer and his family.
“For the tenure that Joe’s had here, all that he has meant to this franchise [and] the fact that he clearly has 10-and-5 rights,” Twins GM Thad Levine said, “we would feel honor-bound — if any club were to call us — to sit down with him and express that to him and then effectively put the ball in his and his wife Maddie’s court to determine how they would want us to proceed.”
That conversation hasn’t happened yet, Mauer said. And unsurprisingly the 15-year big league veteran says he hasn’t spent a whole lot of time thinking about the subject. Mauer said that his tune hasn’t changed since spring training, when he said that he wanted to keep playing baseball so long as he felt he was contributing.
The fact that this could be his final season in Minnesota – or that there’s a trade deadline looming at the end of this month? Those thoughts don’t dominate Mauer’s consciousness, he said, since he’s just paying attention to winning that night’s ballgame. And that’s a pretty typical Joe Mauer answer.
Still, it’s one of the big questions on the mind of Twins fans. With the team currently far out of postseason contention and nothing promised for next year, would the Twins trade away the guy from St. Paul who won three batting titles at home?
This is the final season of an 8-year mega contract that Mauer signed after he won the American League MVP in 2009. He’s done well for himself financially, and he’s a first-ballot Twins hall of famer. If he reaches base 84 more times in a Twins uniform, he’ll pass Harmon Killebrew for No. 1 on the team’s all-time list.
It’s an open question, though, how long he’ll keep pulling on that uniform. Mauer had concussion symptoms earlier this summer and missed about three weeks of action. He’s 35, and this is the final year under contract with the only team he’s ever known. Right now he’s hitting .267/.360/.355 and playing his usual brand of good defense at first base.
Is there a contender out there that could use a guy like Mauer in the lineup? The Twins won’t selectively screen the calls if they come, but Levine also made it clear that Mauer would be part of the discussions. That’s part of his contractual right, but it’s also a respect he’s earned, Levine said.
“I think in the event that we want to move forward in a conversation of that nature, we would let another team kind of inspire it,” Levine said.
“Ideally we would be presenting him an opportunity to pursue the playoffs here,” Levine added. “But just conscious of his commitment to his community – but also a desire to win – I think we would allow for him to make all those decisions, rather than pre-emptively making any decisions on behalf of Joe and his family.”