The Twins are moving All-Star catcher Joe Mauer to first base permanently in 2014, the team announced on Monday.
The shift to first will help the Twins better manage Mauer's long-term health. Playing first base will reduce the chances of Mauer incurring another concussion, after the one he sustained in August while catching, and save him the wear and tear that comes with working behind the plate. Mauer has started four of the last six All-Star Games at catcher. He played eight games at first in 2013 and 30 there in 2012.
Mauer's hitting numbers fall a bit short of typical first-base sluggers. He hit .324/.404/.476 (144 OPS+) with 11 home runs and 47 RBI in 113 games last season. His power numbers have decreased since he hit 28 home runs on his way to winning the 2009 American League Most Valuable Player award.
More important, the Twins are invested in Mauer to the tune of five years and $115 million left on his contract, so they would like to reduce his games missed due to injury in the next five seasons.
"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," said the club in a statement.