Could Joe Mauer end up chasing a ring?
Although there are many who believe Mauer would never think of trying to win a championship outside of Minnesota, the first baseman could have an opportunity to appear in his first World Series if he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.
I first broached this subject in early July, providing the Yankees, Cardinals and Mariners as potential landing spots. On Tuesday, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted this:
It'll be interesting to see if the Yankees target someone who can play first base over the next 17 days, before the Aug. 31 deadline to add post-season eligible players. Greg Bird had two hits Saturday, but is batting .146/.205/.195 this month and has been streaky in his career.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 14, 2018
While it’s unclear if the Yankees have interest in Mauer, he certainly would come at a reasonable price and this could give him the first opportunity of his 15-year career to walk off the field a champion. Mauer already has passed through waivers — the Pioneer Press had the report earlier this month — so that wouldn’t be an issue.
Going to New York would be a quick and painless process for Mauer with a ton of upside. He is in the last season of his eight-year, $184 million contract and even if the World Series went to a Game 7, Mauer would spend only two months in New York.
If the Twins wanted Mauer to return in 2019, it’s unsure if they do, or if the 35-year-old might be considering retirement, he could easily do so. No one would begrudge Mauer for spending a few months of his career playing outside Minnesota or for trying to win something he has little chance of getting as a Twin.
Walking away as part of a World Series champion, also would help stand to help Mauer’s bid to get into the Hall of Fame. There was a time when that appeared to be a lock — he won three batting titles as a catcher — but Mauer hasn’t been the same player since his career was slowed by concussion issues and he was moved to first base in 2014.
Mauer has appeared in 10 playoff games during his career, including the Twins’ wild card loss to the Yankees last season. The last time he played in a full postseason series was in 2010 when the Twins lost to the Yankees in the American League Division Series.
Mauer would provide the Yankees with a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman, but it’s uncertain what they might be getting at the plate. Mauer has had some excellent stretches this season but then gone cold.
He hit .319/.356/.415 with a home run and 12 RBIs in 23 games from July 1 to July 28, but has hit .174/.240/.217 with no home runs and one RBI in 12 games since that time. For the season, Mauer is hitting .269/.349/.355 with three home runs and 34 RBIs in 86 games.
So would the Yankees have interest in Mauer? Would Mauer have interest in the Yankees? Would a short stint in New York help rejuvenate Mauer’s bat? Seems like a discussion the Twins, Yankees and Mauer should have.