The Minnesota Twins should lock up their first baseman of the future

With the 2017 MLB Winter Meetings underway, should the Minnesota Twins consider locking up their first baseman of the future?

The Minnesota Twins head into the 2017 MLB Winter Meetings with plenty of needs. In reality, they could use a starting pitching, a relief pitcher, and a right-handed power bat. As matter of fact, when it comes to pitching, the Twins could use multiple arms considering that’s their main area of weakness.

While the Twins would do right by addressing any of these needs, there’s one more move they should be looking to make. That is, a move for their first baseman of the future.

Before getting too ahead of myself, I’ll be quick to point out that this isn’t a priority by any means. I mean, whether you love him or hate him, Minnesota has Joe Mauer and to his credit, he’s turned into a great defensive first baseman. Not to mention, he’s coming off his best offensive season since 2013. Nevertheless, there’s a perfect opportunity to make a move for a first baseman in this free agent market. One that can be considered the first baseman of the future with Mauer’s contract expiring at the end of next season.

Particularly, the first basemen market boasts the likes of a couple familiar faces. Those familiar faces would be Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana. Of course, Hosmer has spent his whole seven-year career with the Kansas City Royals, while Carlos Santana has spent eight years with the Cleveland Indians.

Both players are intriguing names that should land big contracts in free agency. The 27-year-old Hosmer, who’s also a Scott Boras client, is likely to see a bigger deal in the six-year, $120 million-plus range. On the other hand, the 31-year-old Santana probably gets a four-year deal around $60 million. Given the Twins lack of options behind Mauer currently — although they could consider moving someone like Miguel Sano to first base eventually — Derek Falvey and Thad Levine may be smart to sign one of these first basemen to a long-term deal.

In my opinion, Santana is the better fit for the Twins. Basically, he boasts an underrated defensive game at first base and is the more consistent offensive player. Just take a look at their career batting statistics. Specifically, pay attention to the batting average and on-base percentage of both players.

Eric Hosmer: CAREER BATTING STATISTICS
YEARTEAMGPABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSBCSAVGOBPSLGOPSWAR
20111285236615327319783482115.293.334.465.7991.3
20121525356512422214605695161.232.304.359.663-0.7
201315962386188343177951100114.302.353.448.8013.6
201413150354136351958359342.270.318.398.7160.8
20151585999817833518936110873.297.363.459.8223.6
201615860580161241251045713253.266.328.433.7611.0
20171626039819231125946610461.318.385.498.883
TotalTotal104839915471132206161275663607146019.284.342.439.781
Season Averages149.0570.178.1161.729.42.318.180.951.4102.08.62.7.284.342.439.781
Carlos Santana: CAREER BATTING STATISTICS
YEARTEAMGPABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSBCSAVGOBPSLGOPSWAR
2010461502339130622372930.260.401.467.8681.8
20111555528413235227799713353.239.351.457.8083.4
20121435077212827218769110135.252.365.420.7853.8
20131545417514539120749311031.268.377.455.8324.4
201415254168125250278511312452.231.365.427.7923.1
2015154550721272921985108122113.231.357.395.7521.1
2016158582891513133487999952.259.366.498.8643.0
2017154571901483732379889451.259.363.455.818
TotalTotal11163994573995236131745877268124017.249.365.445.810
Season Averages139.0499.371.6124.429.51.621.873.490.8101.55.02.1.249.365.445.810

 

As you can see, Hosmer has been very up-and-down throughout his career compared to Santana, who’s been far more consistent. Considering Hosmer could make double what Santana gets on the market, the former Indians first baseman looks like the better value. Additionally, Santana is more likely to accept a bigger role as a designated hitter with Mauer still on the roster next season. He also brings flexibility to the lineup as a switch hitter and is a legitimate power presence from both sides of the plate.

Even so, I’m not expecting the Twins to pull a trigger on either player, but they’d be smart to at least consider it with the long-term in mind. Both players can hold down the first base position for the foreseeable future and bring power from the right side of the plate.

While the Twins could still re-sign Mauer after the 2018 season, the likelihood of that isn’t great unless he takes a short-term, incentive-laden deal. A type of deal that doesn’t guarantee him a starting spot. Minnesota could also look at moving another position player to first base, but Hosmer and Santana bring seasoned defensive games to the position. Something that likely couldn’t be replicated by someone else on the Twins roster.

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All things considered, Mauer is on the last year of his contract and Minnesota doesn’t have a clear-cut replacement for him at the moment. By signing Santana or Hosmer, the Twins save themselves the trouble of finding a replacement a year from now and improve their lineup for 2018 in the process.
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