The Minnesota Twins have been one of the worst teams in baseball since their early 2000’s playoff run years and have not been competitive at all the past few years. But there’s reason to believe the future will be bright with mega-prospects like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano and already a superstar in Brian Dozier all getting everyday at bats the past few years.
However, going forward, the face of their franchise, Joe Mauer, is hindering the organization’s progress with his mediocre play — especially considering he’s being paid like a superstar, yet plays like anything but.
Minnesota’s payroll is at $108 million this season, Mauer’s salary for this season is $23 million. The Twins are now paying a first baseman — not a catcher — one quarter of their payroll, and he’s hit (277,265 & 261) the past three seasons, while only hitting .25 total home runs over that three year span. The 33-year-old is destroying this franchise from a financial standpoint.
This problem isn’t going away anytime soon, either. Mauer is signed through 2018, and the Twins owe him $23 million per season from now until then. This is absolutely crippling the franchise financially considering his substandard production. No one is expecting him to win MVP awards, or even hit 25 HR per season anymore (although at his age he’s technically still in his prime). However, what Mauer’s doing currently is completely unacceptable, especially for a corner infielder.
Over the next few seasons when Minnesota expects to be good again, Mauer’s contract is going to prohibit Twins ownership from making free agent additions. There’s no way around it. Playing in a mid-tier market will not allow the franchise the luxury of spending $150 million or $175 million per season on players.
The allure of the brand spankin’ new Target Field has worn off. The revenue bump Minnesota received upon its opening is starting to diminish. Where will the franchise get the money to spend the $18 million per season on the starting pitcher to put them over the top and into the playoffs, or ultimately the World Series?
Perhaps Mauer will chip in, but counting on him to contribute anything positive to the Twins organization is highly unlikely going forward.