First Pitch: Why not Joe Mauer?

July, 3, 2013
7/03/13
6:00
AM ET
MauerHannah Foslien/Getty ImagesJoe Mauer a Yankee? He's a better backstop than what they have now, that's for sure.
MINNEAPOLIS -- As we near the non-waiver trade deadline, it's no secret what the Yankees need and what they don't need.

In a nutshell, they have a surplus of pitching and a shortage of hitting, and with Mark Teixeira officially out for the season and Alex Rodriguez's return still up in the air, corner infield help seems to be a priority.

They might also be in the market for a catcher, since Chris Stewart doesn't hit all that much and Austin Romine doesn't hit at all. And even when healthy, Francisco Cervelli makes no one forget Yogi Berra.

Over the past few days, rumors have swirled about several players who might be shaken loose from teams that are out of contention. The Phillies could be persuaded to part with Michael Young, and the Twins could be willing to say goodbye to Justin Morneau. Both could be a fit for the Yankees, although for a team that needs to get younger, a player such as Young, who is moving toward birthday No. 37, feels a lot like same-old, same-old -- emphasis on old.

At four years younger, Morneau would seem to be a better fit, since he is in the last year of an expiring contract and could step in at first for the remainder of the season without any long-term commitment on the part of the Yankees, who expect Teixeira to return to full health next season following wrist surgery this week.

But there's another possibility: What about Joe Mauer?

Yes, the Twins owe him another $115 million between now and 2018, but he only turned 30 in April, and by the time the contract runs out, he would be 35, hardly too old to split time among catcher, designated hitter and first base. Even though he doesn't have a lot of power, Yankee Stadium is a lot kinder to left-handed hitters than Target Field, and Mauer has been a reliable .320 hitter for his entire 10-year career.

The question is, do the Yankees have what it takes to pry him loose from the franchise that wanted to make him its face?

They could offer Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and a prospect or two, although the fact that both Hughes and Chamberlain will be free agents could be an impediment. There's also Ivan Nova or David Phelps, or maybe even a situational reliever such as a Shawn Kelley or a Preston Claiborne.

Maybe it can't be done or maybe the Yankees won't want to take on Mauer's contract or maybe they won't see him as a fit. But I'm throwing it out there because if the Yankees have any real hope of making a run at October over the second half of this season, it looks like they're going to have to make a move.

So why not Mauer?

Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.

UP NOW: The Rapid Reaction from Tuesday night's 7-3 win over the Twins, as well as a blog on why Hughes might be in the process of pitching his way back into the Yankees' good graces -- or onto the pitching staff of some other team. Also, the latest on Hiroki Kuroda's hip injury and Mariano Rivera's reaction to his new rocking chair.

ON DECK: The Yankees look to make it three in a row over the Twins, sending CC Sabathia (8-6, 4.15 ERA) out against RHP P.J. Walters (2-4, 6.03), first pitch at 8:10 p.m. ET. I will be in the clubhouse when it opens at 4:40 p.m., and will post the lineups and any pregame news shortly thereafter. And once again, Ron Aiken will be in Charleston, S.C., following the continuing saga that is A-Rod, so check in all day. And as always, thanks for reading.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.51 135 129
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .286
HRM. Teixeira 20
RBIJ. Ellsbury 64
RB. Gardner 79
OPSJ. Ellsbury .778
ERAH. Kuroda 3.88
SOM. Tanaka 135