Given how valuable Joe Mauer is to the Minnesota Twins franchise, it was only a matter of time before his catching career ended. Catcher is the most taxing position in baseball. It’s no surprise that there are hardly any above average hitters behind the dish. There will be one less in 2014.
The Twins announced on Monday that Mauer will be making a full-time transition to first base next season. The reason for the switch is obvious.
“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,” the team said in a statement, via Eye on Baseball.
Last season, Mauer was forced to miss a month after he suffered a concussion when a foul tip hit him in the mask. He has also had back and knee problems and will turn 31 shortly after the 2014 season begins. He hit .324 with 11 homers and 47 RBI in 113 games last season.
Mauer appeared in 54 games at first base between 2012 and 2013, so he is not a complete stranger to the position. He has five years and $115 million remaining on his current contract. You can understand why the Twins would rather have him at a position that he can — in theory — remain healthier and not take such a beating every time he’s in the lineup.