November 5, 2009

Off-Season Blueprint: Letting Go (The Mike Redmond Edition)

After spending seven years with the Florida Marlins as a backup catcher, Mike Redmond came north to Minnesota to serve as Joe Mauer's primary backup. Redmond was already considered one of the best backups in all of baseball prior to coming to Minnesota, but he solidified that title with the Twins.

Redmond signed a two-year, $1.8 million deal with the Twins after the 2004 season. He later signed a three-year contract extension during the middle of the 2006 season. Over the last five years with Minnesota, Redmond has hit .297/.339/.359 while giving the team solid defense. But as Redmond got older, both his offense and defense declined drastically and he finished the last year of his contract hitting .237/.299/.289 while throwing out only 13% of runners, which were all career lows.

One would expect that all of these factors would be a clear-enough reason for Redmond to hang up the cleats, but think again. Redmond indicated near the end of the season that he's not yet ready to retire and plans on playing next season whether it be in Minnesota or not.

Down the stretch, Redmond yielded playing time to Jose Morales, who put up substantially better numbers. The 26-year-old Morales hit .311/.381/.361 with a 103 OPS+ in 54 games with the Twins this season. Not only is Morales better offensively, but he's becoming a better defender, which has held him back in years past.

As much of a fan-favorite Redmond has become, it'd make no sense to bring him back next season. While the Twins obviously place a lot of emphasis in veteran leadership, the Twins know that Redmond is a liability and cannot be counted on everyday. Not only that, but he stands to make twice as much as Morales while giving a fraction of the production.

As great as it'll someday be to see Redmond waving runners around third base at Target Field, the Twins need to let him finish off his career somewhere else and move on with Morales.