|Joe Mauer turns 32 in April. His contract extends through|
the 2018 season and no longer the longest committment
on the roster.
Expectations were not met. It war arguably the worst hitting season of his illustrious career, and now he goes into 2015 with some question marks. Good hitting catchers, as an historic rule, fall off a statistical cliff early in their 30s, and Mauer was primarily a catcher though his age 30 season. Was 2014 the new normal for the veteran, or was it an aberration perhaps triggered by the serious concussion that put an early close to his 2013 season?
Even in 2014, Mauer was not a complete zero at the plate. He still led the team's regulars in on-base percentage, and his OPS-plus was still 7 percent above league average. He was still pretty good, but the Twins need more than pretty good from him.
In terms of depth behind him: Kennys Vargas remains and figures to enter the season as the primary designated hitter. Chris Colabello and Chris Parmelee were designated for assignment during the winter; Colabello was claimed by Toronto on waivers and Parmelee, who opted for free agency, is, as far as I know, still unsigned. Colabello and Parmelee got most of the first base time in Triple A; my guess is that a minor league free agent will handle the position for Rochester this summer.