- A deal between the All-Star catcher and the Twins is still more likely than not, and at any moment Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro, could call the team and make it happen, prompting a combination press conference/Minnesota Mardi Gras.
But a combination of modern baseball logic and Twins history suggests that if the Twins' decision-makers can't sign Mauer, they will be obligated to trade him.
A trade could yield a closer to replace Joe Nathan and would protect the franchise in the future from having one player on their roster consuming 20 to 25 percent of their payroll, a formula that rarely works in baseball.
1. I think the Twins will get Mauer signed.
2. If they don't, I still don't think they'll trade him; not this spring anyway.
3. If they do trade him this spring, trading him for a relief pitcher would be the height of idiocy.
Look, not devoting 25 percent of your payroll to one player is a pretty good idea.
But way, way too much has been made of that. If a team with a $75 million payroll can compete -- and many of them have -- then why couldn't a team a team with a $25 million player and $75 million spent on the other 24 players compete just as well?
Answer: No reason.
You know what's an even better idea: Not targeting a reliever when trading your single most valuable commodity. Trading for a reliever would be a terribly short-sighted move, designed to net an extra two or three wins in one season (granted, two or three wins might make a difference this season). Trading Mauer, if it simply must be done, should be designed to net the Twins twice that, at the very least.
The disposition of this situation will go a long way toward determining the future of this franchise. Signing Mauer would be good. Trading Mauer for a scad of talented young players could be good. Trading Mauer for a reliever might set the franchise back five years.