Shortly after that, talk radio lines flooded, blog servers went tilt and the universe nearly exploded with speculation that the Twins would get rid of their highly-paid face of the franchise in order to accelerate their rebuilding effort.
My response after reading all of this was laughter. You know the kind where you're laughing so hard that you can barely breathe? Yeah, it's that kind of laughter.
That's because trading Mauer would be one of the worst moves in the history of the franchise.
Some may argue that signing Mauer to the now infamous eight-year, $186 million contract extension prior to the 2010 season may rival as the worst move in franchise history. Still, why would the Twins want to give up a guy who will be in the MVP race for years to come?
Twins fans—and perhaps even the franchise—have been acting like Mauer is 35 instead of 29 because of his disastrous 2011 campaign. If that's the case, they're completely missing the point here.
Yes, Mauer doesn't catch as much as he used to. However, his numbers are still on par with what he was putting up in his monster 2009 season, which earned him the largest contract in franchise history.
This season alone, Mauer has shown the gap power that made him an on-base machine at the Metrodome. It's not quite the 29 home runs he put up in 2009, but he's hit a couple out to the opposite gap this season; that's a good sign as the Twins continue in their rebuilding effort.
If this were 2007, Mauer's current line of .309 with eight home runs and 66 runs batted in would have been good enough for the Twins' faithful to worship the ground he walked on. Instead, he's been the most criticized player in all of baseball.
Even after that, Mauer is still the most represented player when it comes to jerseys at Target Field, and he remains the face of the franchise.
This is why the Twins cannot afford to let him walk for a pack of unproven prospects. As Twins fans can attest—referring to the Johan Santana trade—these deals are not a sure thing to get equal value in return, especially in August.
Trading Mauer could leave a massive hole in the lineup that the Twins would struggle to replace. Even the biggest Mauer basher can agree with this after seeing how Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra have set the franchise back several seasons.
While it's almost certain that some teams are salivating at having Mauer behind the plate for a couple of seasons before sneaking him into left field (or designated hitter), the Twins would likely look foolish if he turned around and put up a 2009-type season at—just a guess—Fenway Park.
The Twins need to make several moves to get back on track, but trading their best player is not the way to go about it.
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