Old friend Bill Madden's just been a fount of potential blogging topics of late, it would seem. In today's Daily News, Madden suggests that should extension talks between Joe Mauer and the Twinkies fall apart, the Yankees would be the likely frontrunners to land Joe Power via trade due to their two best hitting prospects, catchers Jesus Montero and Austin Romine. (As a quick aside, it's crazy how quickly the Romine hype-machine has ramped up into overdrive this spring -- I know Romine's been a fairly well-regarded prospect since being drafted by the Yankees, but I didn't realize he'd turned into, as Madden writes, "the complete package - bat, arm, mechanics, makeup - to be a top quality all-around catcher - for someone.")
To Madden's credit, he actually doesn't come out and say that the Yankees have absolutely no choice but to trade Montero and Romine for Mauer, but you can tell he's thinking it. I can't say I've given much thought to a Mauer trade, as I'd assumed the Twins would do the right thing and ensure their franchise player remains in Minnesota for his career, but it throws a bit of a wrinkle into the picture.
Given what we've been told about Jesus, I'd imagine most Yankee fans would be loath to trade Montero for anyone, even, say, Roy Halladay (although had a one-for-one swap actually been on the table I think you'd have to make that move). However, given that the two play the same position, a Mauer-for-Montero (and Romine?) swap might actually be the one instance in which a Montero trade makes sense. As great as Montero's bat could end up becoming, you have to figure Joe Mauer, already one of the five best players in baseball, is his absolute ceiling. And it's not as if Mauer's some old washed-up past-his-prime scrub.
Obviously there's no deal without an exclusive negotiating window for a contract extension, so if we are to assume that the Yankees would be going after Mauer with everything they've got should he become a free agent after 2010 anyway, the potential to wrap Mauer up long-term without an obscene bidding war with Boston could also be appealing to the Yanks.
My ultimate preference would of course be that they sit tight and hope that Mauer hits free agency -- I am the man behind Save Phil Hughes, after all -- but if Minnesota can't get its act together, then Mauer seems a near-certainty to hit the trade market (see Santana, Johan), and if the Yankees truly do want Joe Mauer for the next 10 years it may end up coming at the cost of Jesus.