The Red Sox pulled off the biggest cost-cutting move in MLB history last week when they shipped Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers and unloaded over $270 million in salary in the process.
The move opens up roughly $60 million in salary room for the 2013 season alone, and while there is no question the Red Sox would like to keep their salary at a more manageable level moving forward, they are also not going to all of a sudden become a small market team.
The fact of the matter is, the Red Sox are going to keep spending and in the market they play in, they will be pressured to get a winning team back on the field as soon as possible, so don't expect a lengthy rebuild to ensue.
With that in mind, one name that could be of interest to the team as they look to the future is Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who was recently placed on waivers, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Rosenthal names the Red Sox in particular as a potential landing spot for the All-Star catcher.
Even if he goes unclaimed on waivers, which seems likely considering he is owed roughly $142.5 million from now until the end of the 2018 season, the Red Sox could explore the idea of trading for him.
A Minnesota native who grew up in St. Paul, Mauer was lauded for his commitment to the Twins when he re-signed to a long-term deal. He has a full no-trade clause, but no one would blame him at this point for bailing on a Twins franchise that has hit the skids and does not have particularly bright immediate future.
A .322 career hitter, Mauer already has three batting titles and the 2009 AL MVP to his credit, but there were more than a few question marks surrounding him entering the season after a disastrous 2011 campaign.
Last year, Mauer was limited to just 82 games because of injury and hit just .287 BA, 3 HR, 30 RBI over 296 at bats when he was on the field.
Those questions have been answered this year, however, as he has a solid .309/.403/.425 line and has managed to avoid injury to play in 120 games already.
In Mauer, the Red Sox would get a middle-of-the-order hitter capable of replacing the production lost in moving Adrian Gonzalez. His power has been non-existent since a 28-HR campaign back in 2009, but a big reason for that is the spacious Target Field that he calls home.
Incumbent Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has had a solid season, with a .231 BA, 22 HR, 52 RBI line and he is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility. The team could conceivably bring him back either way, as Mauer has 32 starts and DH and 25 at first base this year and could be used in a similar context in Boston.
As far as what the Red Sox would have to give up, the Twins would no doubt look for pitching and Rosenthal brought up two names in Felix Doubront and top prospect Matt Barnes who would likely draw interest.
Boston, with pitching problems of their own, would be hesitant to deal either guy. However, if the Twins were to sweeten the deal by taking on some of Mauer's remaining salary, it is conceivable that they would pull the trigger.
Rosenthal also noted that perhaps an offseason deal involving Jacoby Ellsbury, who is a free agent at the end of next season, is something the two sides could explore.
In the end, this is all speculation at this point. The Red Sox would no doubt be gun shy about bringing on a massive deal weeks after unloading three similar deals. Mauer could very easily balk at the notion of leaving Minnesota and put an end to any discussion.
Still, a Mauer-to-the-Red Sox deal could make a lot of sense for both sides and only time will tell if the five-time All-Star backstop is on his way out of Minnesota.
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