Justin Morneau’s third major injury in three years has the Twins talking about using Joe Mauer somewhere other than catcher for the first time and he took some reps at first base prior to tonight’s game.
Jordan Schelling of MLB.com snapped the attached photo and Mauer got some personal instruction from manager Ron Gardenhire.
When he’ll see game action at first base and how often he’ll be used there remains to be seen, as both Mauer and the Twins continue to indicate that they have no plans to move him out from behind the plate permanently.
And rightfully so, as he deserves one more chance to get healthy and stay healthy before a career-altering move down the defensive spectrum. Mauer’s career .880 OPS leads all active catchers with at least 1,500 plate appearances, but would rank just 10th among active first basemen. As a way to get his bat into the lineup one or two extra times per week it’s certainly worth a try, though.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.