Will all that reclaimed money try to burn a hole in the pocket of the Boston Red Sox?
The first test for GM Ben Cherington's pledge of fiscal patience may have arrived as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Minnesota Twins have placed Joe Mauer on waivers.
As it does with most other stars who are routinely placed on waivers in August, such a move probably means nothing. But it's interesting in this case because Mauer has six years and $142.5 million remaining on his contract while the Red Sox just saved $250 million by dealing away Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. This offseason's free-agent crop is rather thin — a fact that caused the Dodgers to pull the trigger on such a big deal — and so the Red Sox could go after Mauer, a player the franchise coveted before he re-upped for a record contract with his hometown Twins.
Mauer has recovered from an injury-plagued 2011 to post a nice 2012. He made the All-Star team, has already played in 120 games and has hit .309/.403/.425 with eight homers and 66 RBIs. He still makes too much money at $23.5 million a season, though, if the Twins are to entertain any thoughts of being a more complete team in the future. And while any thoughts of Mauer in anything but a Twins uniform might have sparked a statewide panic a few years back, the realities of the deal's anchor weight on the entire franchise have probably softened the loyalties of even his biggest fans in the Twin Cities.
So would that make Mauer a good fit for the Red Sox if he were to approve a move to Boston? The Red Sox would be able to absorb the size of that contract with a lot more comfort than Minnesota and they'd be gaining the type of quiet clubhouse leader that could appease a frustrated fan base. A move to Fenway Park could also help revive the left-handed batter's power numbers, which have been sapped ever since the Twins moved to spacious Target Field.
Still, as my pal C. Trent Rosecrans of CBS Sports acknowledges, it probably remains a long shot. If Cherington is really serious about curing the Red Sox of their addiction to luxury free agents and returning to the fundamental foundation that built the two World Series winners then he's certainly not going to go after a veteran catcher who's nearing 30 with all those zeroes still hanging on the end of his deal.
Now, as for the budget-less Dodgers' interest in ponying up that type of money ...