Is Joe Mauer Untradeable unless He Agrees to Permanently Stop Catching?

Christopher BenvieCorrespondent IIAugust 29, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 24:  Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on August 24, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In case you haven't heard the news, the Minnesota Twins placed their homegrown, face of the franchise, Joe Mauer on trade waivers.

Mauer, who was born in St. Paul and later would go on to Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul Minnesota has only ever known the Twin cities as his baseball home.

That all could change.

The Twins are about to finish their second consecutive losing season. They have already shown a willingness to trade off pieces of the team, sending Francisco Liriano to the White Sox on July 28th.

It has become apparent that the team is looking to start over and rebuild. Unloading their marquee player would certainly catapult that movement.

However, with Mauer comes inherited risk. Pretty substantial risk at that. The positives for any team to make a deal for Mauer are obviously considerable.

He is a five-time All-Star and won the American League MVP in 2009. His .365/.444/.587/1.031 batting line earned what is considered the modern day Triple Crown (.BA, OBP, SLG). 

Speaking of batting average, 2009 would mark the third of three seasons in which Mauer led the AL in that category. In 2006, he owned a .347 average while posting a .328 in 2008.

Beyond that, the man has three Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger Awards.

Accolades aside, 2011 may have changed the perception of Mauer as a whole. He would only play 82 games that season, hitting just three home runs and 15 doubles. His batting average dropped to a career low .287 that year.

During his down year, Mauer was diagnosed with a viral infection that led to weakness in the catchers legs. It slowed his progress in returning to the Twins' roster and could also account for the drop in power numbers he once showed.

To be clear, Mauer has never been known as a slugger by any means. However, he has always had an ability to rack up double-digit doubles, a handful of triples with home run totals hovering around 10 per season.

The question of his bilateral leg weakness can still linger in the minds of any prospective suitor. Couple that with the fact that he is owed $138 million ($23 million per season) over the next six seasons can seriously cut down on his suitors as well.

The bottom line is that his contract is too big of a liability when coupled with his concussion history as well as his well-documented injury history. Has he indeed become an epidemic behind the plate?

The only way that the Twins will be able deal Mauer is if he accepts the fact that he can no longer be a major league catcher and embrace a role as a first baseman and/or designated hitter.

Throughout his career he has played first base 42 times. When stationed there, he has a .325/.406/.377/.782 batting line. The lack in power is somewhat inexplicable, however, he still manages to get on base considerably.

In 152 games as a DH, his batting line is more impressive, especially in terms of power: .307/.397/.423/.820 with eight home runs, 35 doubles and 74 RBI.

The question is, would a suitor be willing to pay $23 million per season for a .316/.402/.400/.802 batter with almost non-existent home run totals?

Wade Boggs was arguably one of the greatest hitters of his generation. To watch him in batting practice, he had all the power in the world, but never hit many home runs during the regular season. In fact, through his 18-year career, Boggs only hit double-digit home runs twice.

Mauer has only hit double-digit homers twice. Is Mauer a modern day Boggs in that sense? 

At the end of the day, what it all will come down to is Mauer's willingness to give up his time spent behind the plate. If he's willing to do that, the list of suitors will certainly grow.

As will the confidence of the men writing the checks.