Twins move Joe Mauer from catcher to first base following concussion

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For the past two months the Twins have repeatedly insisted that they plan to have Joe Mauer remain at catcher next season despite sitting out the final 40 games following a concussion, but today the team announced that Mauer is moving to first base.

Mauer spent 10 seasons at catcher, hitting .323 with an .873 OPS while making six All-Star teams and winning three batting titles, three Gold Glove awards, five Silver Slugger awards, and one MVP. Among all catchers in baseball history through age 30 he ranks sixth in Wins Above Replacement, behind only Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Ivan Rodriguez, Joe Torre, and Ted Simmons. Mauer was an amazing all-around catcher.

Back in August when Mauer suffered the concussion I wrote a lengthy article breaking down how a position switch would impact his all-around value. The short version is that big batting averages and on-base percentages would continue to make him a very good-hitting first baseman, but his lack of power would keep him from remaining as elite there as he was at catcher. Instead of being a top-three catcher every season, he projected to be in the 5-10 range among first basemen.

However, at some point this issue became less about value and more about health, and given how he struggled with post-concussion symptoms and given how many catchers spent time on the concussion disabled list this season the move makes sense for both Mauer and the Twins. He needs to be healthy and in the lineup, which is far more likely at first base than catcher.

Minnesota will likely turn to Josmil Pinto as their primary catcher following an impressive September debut, with Ryan Doumit and Chris Herrmann also in the mix to catch.

Martin Prado exits game with left hamstring injury

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Marlins third baseman Martin Prado was forced to make an early departure from Friday’s game after sustaining a left hamstring injury in the sixth inning. Prado sprinted down the first base line to beat out a grounder, but came up limping and had to be helped off of the field and down the steps of the dugout. His recovery timetable has yet to be determined, though he’s considered day-to-day for the time being.

Prior to the incident, Prado went 3-for-4 with two doubles against the Nationals’ Max Scherzer — his first game with multiple extra-base hits since July 2017. It was a rare lucky break for the infielder, who entered Friday’s game with a .169/.221/.180 batting line, one double and three RBI in 95 plate appearances in 2018. The injury appears to be an aggravation of the left hamstring strain he sustained in March, which forced the club to bench him for just over a month this spring.

Prado was replaced on the field by Brian Anderson, who shifted over from right field so the team could bring in pinch-hitter/corner outfielder J.B. Shuck. The Marlins currently trail the Nationals 7-5 in the top of the eighth inning.