Nature abhors a vacuum and apparently baseball writers abhor a lack of news:
Mauer still has more leverage than Pat Williams on a teeter-totter,
but as negotiations have lagged, Mauer’s hesitancy to accept a
record-setting contract offer from his hometown team has made his
signing less than a sure thing and raised this previously unthinkable
“Won’t the Twins have to trade him if he refuses their best offer?” . . .
. . . 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.
Joe Mauer for a closer? Well, you drive a hard bargain, Twins, but I suppose Theo Epstein may bite the bullet and trade, say, Jonathan Papelbon for him. OK, Papelbon and a second or third tier minor league catcher to fill your organizational needs, but that’s his final offer.
Back here in the real world, the only thing trading Joe Mauer will “protect” the Twins from is from having to make ushers wipe down the upper deck seats before home games, what with the fact that no fans will ever show up to sit there.
The Twins are almost certainly going to sign Joe Mauer. If they don’t, they’d be better off simply letting him walk while engaging in kabuki theater to make everyone think that he was the bad guy than shipping him out for what, at this point, wouldn’t be quite the haul everyone thinks it might be.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.