On-Base Perception

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Joe Mauer and waiver claims

Minnesota's Joe Mauer hits a tie-breaking RBI single

Minnesota's Joe Mauer hits a tie-breaking RBI single against the Seattle Mariners. (Aug. 18, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Joe Mauer was placed on waivers this week and the Minnesota Twins scheduled a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

But if you granted yourself even a fleeting moment of thinking the two items were related, that the Twins' star catcher might be the latest big name traded this August, rest easy.

The announcement was that the Twins would host the 2014 All-Star Game.

Mauer was never really in danger of going anywhere.

Teams routinely place players—both big names and bench warmers—on waivers in August, for varying reasons. Many times there's never any intention of making a trade.

If one team is awarded another team's player via a waiver claim, there are three possible outcomes: (1) The teams can work out a trade, as was the case with the Dodgers and Red Sox mega-deal from earlier this month; (2) The claiming team can simply be given the player—and his salary. This is what happened with Alex Rios in 2009, when the Blue Jays simply handed him to the White Sox in order to shed his contract. (3) The player's team can pull him back and retain his services.

There are other rules to August waiver claims, but those are the main things to know.

So the Twins placed Mauer on waivers. Why? There are a couple possibilities. One is that they wanted to see if anyone was willing to bite on Mauer and his expensive contract.

The 2009 AL MVP has seen his power drop back to his career norms after posting a career-year during the MVP campaign. Mauer has hit more than nine home runs in a season just twice in his career: He hit 13 in 2006 and an astounding 28 in 2009. If the Twins thought they were getting a power-hitting catcher when they gave Mauer an eight-year $184-million contract extension before the 2010 season, they were wrong. Plus injuries slowed Mauer in 2011, and there's some concern about his ability to stay healthy at catcher long term.

So if some team claimed Mauer, the Twins might seriously consider asking the face of their franchise to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a deal. Or they might have pulled him back, waiting until the offseason to expand the Mauer market to a larger number of bidders, but knowing that there was indeed some legitimate interest.

That assumes, however, there is a team willing to take on Mauer's contract and Mauer's issues. The Dodgers may have deeper pockets than Daddy Warbucks, but even they have limits (probably).

The Twins could have also been trying to sneak a lesser player through waivers by passing him through with some of the Twins' bigger names. Minnesota may have every intention of keeping Mauer; but they may want to be able to trade away a piece that is not as much a part of their future.

Mauer cleared waivers on Wednesday, according to Ken Rosenthal. The Twins could now technically trade the catcher (as long as he waives his no-trade clause).

But it's more likely he suits up for Minnesota once again in 2013.

Tags: Joe Mauer , Minnesota Twins

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