Joe Mauer is probably the most important player the Minnesota Twins have on their roster as well as one of the better hitters in baseball, but keeping him behind the plate at catcher has put his career at risk and limited his playing time in recent seasons. For this reason, the Twins are moving Mauer to play first base full-time, per a report from CBS baseball insider Jon Heyman.
“After consultation with doctors from Mayo Clinic and team doctors, and given the inherent risks of future injury at the catcher position, the organization and Joe determined that it would be in the best interest of both him and the Twins for a position change,” said the club in a statement.
Mauer has played first base at times, and has made 54 starts at the position in the past three seasons with a .993 fielding percentage. Mauer’s 2013 season was cut short to just 113 games when he was shut down after suffering a concussion on a foul tip to his facemask in September. Despite the missed time, Mauer batted .324 with 11 home runs, 47 RBIs and was named to the 2013 All-Star team.
Moving Mauer to first should extend his playing career, if all goes well. Since Minnesota drafted Mauer first overall in 2001, Mauer has hit .323 overall and batted over .300 seven times in ten seasons. Mauer has won three the AL batting titles (2006, 2008 and 2009) and also won the AL MVP in 2009, when he batted .365 and hit 28 home runs while driving in 96 runs in 138 games. Mauer has five years and $115 million remaining on an eight-year, $184 million contract he signed with the Twins in 2010.
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