With spring training drawing near, the Minnesota Twins are hoping Joe Mauer can improve his offensive numbers and return to form in 2015.
After 2013's season-ending concussion, the Twins hoped Mauer would be able to stay healthy last year as he made the transition to first base, but it didn't work out that way.
Instead, he missed more than a month because of a strained oblique and played in just 120 games. More alarming though was that Mauer's offensive numbers dropped. He hit .271 with just four home runs and saw his strikeout rate spike.
But as Twins MLB.com blogger Rhett Bollinger points out, given Mauer's track record – including his .319 career batting average and .401 on base percentage – the Twins believe he's a prime candidate to bounce back.
But will he?
1500 ESPN's Derek Wetmore says for awhile Mauer was underappreciated by Twins fans, but he admits there are some awfully concerning one-year and two-year trends with Mauer's bat – especially since he has moved to a position that demands more offensive production.
Even with his $23 million salary and waning numbers, Wetmore notes that Mauer is still a productive player.
"All of this is to say that if this is the new normal for Mauer – the evaporating power, the fallen OBP, the increased strikeouts – he's being overpaid for the remainder of his contract. That's a sunk cost to the Twins.
With that being said, he's still a productive player, and if it's any consolation to the Twins or their fans, there are much worse contracts in the Majors."
So things could be much worse for Mauer and the Twins. Just how much worse you ask? Grantland put together a list of the 10 Worst Contracts in Major League Baseball, and Mauer wasn't mentioned.
- 3B Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees – three years, $61 million
- SP Matt Harrison, Texas Rangers – three years, $41 million
- CF B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves – three years, $46 million
- OF Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers – six years, $116 million
- 1B Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers – six years, $144 million
- 1B Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels – seven years, $189 million
- 1B Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies – two years, $60 million
- OF Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels – three years, $83 million
- OF Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers – three years, $56 million
- SP Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers – five years, $140 million