OK, let's have a little fun here. The Minnesota Twins have placed Joe Mauer on revocable trade waivers, which doesn't necessary mean anything. Teams can place their entire roster on waivers this time of the year, just in case a legitimate trade offer comes through.
Still ... if the report is accurate, why put Mauer through the waiver process if you're not at least curious to see if any team would be interested in him? Is it possible that any team would actually trade for Mauer, considering he's making $23 million per year through 2018? Mauer also owns a no-trade clause and is a St. Paul native, but let's assume he wouldn't block a deal. Here are some possibilities:
Of course. Russell Martin is batting .195, so Mauer would be a huge upgrade offensively. Three issues here, however. Mauer has only caught about half of Minnesota's games, so his ability to catch 130 games long-term is a huge question. The Yankees don't have a hole at first base, but could use Mauer as a part-time DH in the future (with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter filling in at DH some when Mauer catches). The Yankees also have an excellent catching prospect in Gary Sanchez (.292, 17 home runs in Class A, just 19 years old) and a reported desire to remain below the $189 luxury tax threshold by 2014. Bringing on Mauer's salary would seemingly make that difficult, although the Yankees are currently committed only to Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira for 2014, to the tune of $75 million. But if you factor in a Robinson Cano extension, another deal for Jeter, and possible deals with Curtis Granderson and/or Nick Swisher, you're well above $100 million before Mauer, let alone the rest of the roster.
Clearly, the Dodgers have indicated they don't care about the tax threshold. The trouble here is that there's no first-base outlet and no DH. Plus, A.J. Ellis has actually been very productive (.384 OBP) and the farm system was ripped apart with the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Seems unlikely. For the most part, I think we could rule out any NL team.
3. Red Sox
The Red Sox are in pretty good shape at catcher with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway and you would think they would be more interested in upgrading the pitching staff. Salty does have just a .286 OBP, however, and first base is open with the departure of Gonzalez. Still, doesn't seem like the Red Sox would pick up a guy with shaky health who is owed $161 million from 2013-2018.
4. White Sox
Kenny Williams is never afraid to make a bold move. But with A.J. Pierzynski, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn serving as the heart of the White Sox offense right now, there doesn't seem like a fit for 2012, not to mention Chicago's lack of top prospects to deal.
Here's an interesting scenario. Mike Napoli is an impending free agent. Mitch Moreland is more role player than a long-term answer at first base. Michael Young, the team's primary DH this year, has been terrible and has just one year left on his contract. The Rangers have gobs of cash and a deep farm system to make a deal from. In 2014, the Rangers have about $60 million committed to Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Yu Darvish, Elvis Andrus, Derek Holland and Leonys Martin, plus whatever Matt Harrison would get in his final year of arbitration. With no Josh Hamilton or Nelson Cruz, the payroll would open up a bit and Mauer could catch, play some first and DH. Hmm.
Would they really bring on another mega-salary? They're still paying $24 million for Vernon Wells for two more years, Albert Pujols goes up to $16 million next year and then $23 million in 2014, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson are signed through 2016 at about $18 million per year and Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar are signed through 2015 and 2016 at an average salary of $9.5 million per year. And down the road Mike Trout may command the biggest contract in baseball history. tHE Angels could use a catcher, but the payroll and position flexibility doesn't seem to exist.
A good sleeper candidate. Justin Smoak's future isn't going to be in Seattle. The team does have John Jaso and Jesus Montero as potential catchers, plus 2012 top pick Mike Zunino, who has destroyed minor league pitching in 40 games and could be ready as soon as next year. But what about bringing Mauer in to play first base? The M's are desperate for a hitter who can get on base, and Mauer fits that bill perfectly. Yes, they'd be overpaying for a guy who isn't a big power hitter, but their payroll commitment beyond 2013 is Felix Hernandez (signed through 2014) and Danny Hultzen (at a mere $1.7 million). So they have a lot of payroll flexibility and a young team. A little overpay for a good player wouldn't be the worst decision.