Ask yourself this question, and be honest in your reply: If Joe Mauer were becoming a free agent this offseason, is there any chance – ANY chance, whatsoever – that he would fetch a six-year, $138 million contract?
I think the answer is pretty clearly no. That's the prorated remaining portion of the eight-year contract Mauer signed with the Twins after a 2009 season in which he was arguably baseball's best player. He was 26, he was one of the game's most popular players and he was as healthy as he'd ever been.
That was then, and this is now. In three seasons since, Mauer has hit .311/.393/.429 – impressive numbers but nowhere near the otherworldly stats he compiled in his MVP campaign. He has been besieged by injuries, missing a quarter of his team's games. And as he prepares to enter his 30s, he has already begun to transition away from catcher.
Mauer is a great player and a tremendous asset. But any way you slice it, his value has declined pretty sharply over the past three seasons, which is largely a testament to how insanely high it was at the time he re-upped with the Twins.
My point in all this is to say that no baseball team is going to give up quality prospects for the right to absorb Mauer's enormous and substantially risky contract. For all the hubbub about the catcher being put through waivers earlier this week – an extremely routine and procedural move that probably shouldn't have been reported in such provocative terms
– the truth is that Terry Ryan would have been a fool not to expose Mauer to the league. He said as much himself
If some team were to go crazy like the Dodgers and offer up good young players to take on more than $100 million in salary commitments (extraordinarily unlikely since that bonanza was basically unprecedented), shouldn't the Twins at least hear them out? There is no downside to testing the waters, and certainly no player should be considered flat-out untradable by anyone when it comes to a rebuilding team.
As you'd expect, Ryan got no bites. Because no team is in position to do what Los Angeles did. Had that wacky trade not gone down so recently, this "story" would have been a passing note rather than a daylong talking point.
Mauer's oversized contract and full no-trade clause make it extremely improbable that he'll be moved, now or in the future. I mean extremely
improbable – like Jim Carrey so-you're-telling-me-there's-a-chance improbable. It might be fun to daydream about what kind of impact such an outlandish move might have, but at the end of the day such thoughts are nothing more.