Would You Want Joe Mauer?

Let's imagine that North and South Dakota unite, secede from the United States, then successfully invade Minnesota. They form the nation of Dakotasota. As part of the chaos that ensues, Major League Baseball folds the Twins. The current roster is subject, with current contracts transferable and valid, to a kind of draft, and the Royals get the first pick.

Should they take Joe Mauer? Would you take Joe Mauer?

In eight seasons, Mauer has hit .323/.403/.471 and is generally regarded as a good defensive catcher. In 2008-09, he was Hall of Fame good, though his production has tailed off in the last two seasons. In 2010-11 he hit .313/.387/.432 in 219 games. At his peak, he might be a 7-9 win player, and even in his injury-marred and sometimes frustrating 2010-11 campaigns, he's been valuable.

The issue is Mauer's contract and to a lesser extent his injury history, performance and status as a catcher. When Mauer was signed to a longterm contract in Minnesota, the news was heralded with puppy dogs and cookies enthusiasm and joy, as he stayed with his hometown team. It was, as they say, supposedly good for baseball that the Twins locked him up. I was skeptical that the contract was a good move for the Twins, and even half-predicted he would be resented by casual fans by the end of the deal. From now until 2018, Mauer will be paid $23 million annually. He'll be 29 next season, and has already started 740 games at catcher. Players like Mauer present a paradoxical situation: he gives you extreme value as a catcher, but those innings are toxic long-term.

The Royals believe they will be ready to contend soon, and Mauer would certainly help the team on the field. Could they afford him along with keeping Eric Hosmer and others around? What about 2016-2018? Will $23 million not be so much by then? Questions abound.

So, would you take Mauer if you could have him?

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