Joe Mauer
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Joe Mauer announces retirement

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Former Twins first baseman Joe Mauer has announced his retirement from Major League Baseball, according to a letter that was published on MLB.com on Friday. While there had been several hints that the six-time All-Star was nearing the end of his time with the club, Mauer revealed that he hadn’t felt ready to make an official decision until he stood on the field for the final game of the 2018 season.

The answer I was searching for came into sharper focus during my last game,” Mauer wrote, “a game I will never forget and a day where I felt like everything I was questioning started to become clear. As I stood on the field in my catcher’s gear, something I never thought would be possible again, I realized in that moment that this is how I wanted to finish my career. I wanted to finish on my home field in front of our amazing fans, my family, my friends, my teammates, and the organization that means so much to me. Being able to do that for a brief moment as a catcher, made that day even more incredible than I could have imagined.

It wasn’t just a sense of closure that gave Mauer the courage he needed to step away from a long, illustrious run with the Twins, however. He sustained a severe concussion during the 2013 season, one that compromised his ability to stick behind the plate and forced a permanent switch to first base. A host of other injuries — including a thigh injury, back strain, and lingering concussion symptoms — plagued the infielder in the years to follow, culminating in his decision to enter retirement for the sake of his health and his family.

Over 15 years with the Twins, the 35-year-old infielder holds a lifetime .306/.388/.439 batting line, six All-Star designations, three Gold Gloves, five Silver Sluggers and the 2009 AL MVP award. He also earned several distinctions in the league as the first AL catcher to earn a batting title, which he tacked onto his MVP season with a league-leading (and MLB record for a catcher) .365 average and .444 OBP across 606 PA for Minnesota.

In addition to the letter that was released on Friday, Mauer is expected to announce his retirement in the Sunday edition of the Star-Tribune as well.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.