Via Charley Walters last Thursday -
Joe Mauer, despite catching regularly for the Minnesota Twins and missing the first 22 games with a sore back, still has 179 hits this season — without steroids. That’s just two fewer hits than Barry Bonds had in one season during his 22-year major league career. The most hits Bonds had in one season was 181 in 1993 for the San Francisco Giants.
Mauer is not only leading the American League in batting average (.371), but in on-base percentage (.442) and slugging percentage (.606).
Mauer, 26, can become a free agent after the 2010 season. When contract talks get serious after this season, the Twins are expected to try to sign Mauer for about $120 million over seven years.
The New York Yankees, however, with catcher Jorge Posada at 38 years old, are expected to offer more money and possibly more years.
For instance, the Yankees have first baseman Mark Teixeira, 29, under contract for $180 million for eight years. C.C. Sabathia, 29, is pitching with a $161 million, seven-year deal. Mauer is every bit the commodity.
Boston catcher Jason Varitek is 37, and it’s clear the big spending Red Sox would love to have Mauer for the next seven or eight years.
There’s no question in my mind that the Red Sox will make a hard run at Mauer if he hits the free agent market. Should the Yankees get involved too? Probably depends on where New Yorks current crop of catching prospects – Montero, Romine, Murphy, Sanchez, Cervelli, and Higashioka – sits this time next year…