Joe Mauer is now officially on the trading block for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins started shopping the former AL MVP once he cleared revocable waivers and can now be traded to any team.

However, the Twins will have difficulty trading Mauer for several reasons, including contractual obligations and a declining ability to perform at the catcher position.

Mauer is in the midst of a resurgence this season after missing significant time during the 2011 season. In only 82 games in 2011, Mauer put up career lows across the board while also performing poorly behind the plate due to injuries.

Thus far in 2012, Mauer was elected to the AL All-Star team and is yet again tops in the majors in many hitting statistics at the catcher position. Mauer is also among the top-ten in the league for batting average and on-base percentage.

Mauer has his fill of awards through a nine-season career, among which are 2009 AL MVP, five All-Star appearances, three Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger awards. He is also positioned very well this season to earn another Silver Slugger award.

However, with all the awards aside, Mauer will prove difficult to trade for the Twins. At the age of 29, he has a history of injury problems and decreasing defensive abilities, both major red flags for a catcher. Mauer has shown no signs of being accepting of a position change at this point, which could scare off potential suitors.

What is more worrisome for teams looking to deal for Mauer is his contract situation. His current contract, signed prior to the 2011 season, pays $23 million each year until 2018—currently the largest contract ever signed for a catcher in the MLB. That’s an exorbitant amount of money for an injury-prone catcher with declining defensive skills.

There’s no question that Mauer will continue to hit and be one of the most prominent hitting catchers as long as he remains at the position, but the questions of money, defensive value, and physical health are going to drive away many potential trade partners.

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