Door is open for Joe Mauer’s No. 7 to be retired by Twins in 2019

MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Mauer’s announcement Monday that he was retiring after 15 seasons with the Minnesota Twins means it’s a question of when, not if, his No. 7 will become the ninth number retired by the franchise.

Twins president Dave St. Peter said the topic already has been discussed “a little bit,” and did not close the door on the honor coming during the 2019 season.

“There’s no question that Joe is a historically significant player,” St. Peter said following the press conference at Target Field. “He’s upper echelon of our franchise, so with that I think will come some honors and some recognition, deservedly so. We’re not ready to announce anything there yet, but I would expect that in the weeks and maybe months to come we’ll be able to release some ideas and some plans for 2019 aimed at celebrating Joe Mauer’s career.”

Mauer is the only American League catcher to win a battling title and he did it three times during his career. St. Peter pointed out that the Twins have immediately retired numbers in the past.

“There is precedent,” he said. “(Kent) Hrbek’s number was retired the year after he retired; (Kirby) Puckett, the year after he retired; and (Rod) Carew, the year after he was done playing with the Angels. In Harmon (Killebrew’s) case, we actually retired the number before he was done playing. We retired it when he was still playing for the Royals. So there is precedent for that. That’s a decision that ultimately will be made by the Pohlad family. They have a recommendation from myself and we’ll get together in the weeks to come and we’ll talk about it.”

Mauer would join Killebrew (No. 3), Tony Oliva (No. 6), Hrbek (No. 14), Carew (No. 29), Puckett (No. 34), Bert Blyleven (No. 28) and Tom Kelly (No. 10) as former Twins to have their numbers retired. Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 also has been retired and was done so in 1997 by every team in baseball.

Mauer also figures to be in the conversation to receive a statue outside Target Field and perhaps even have a gate in his honor. Kelly, Puckett, Carew, Killebrew, Oliva, Hrbek, Calvin Griffith and Carl and Eloise Pohlad all have statues outside the stadium.

St. Peter said that definitely won’t happen in 2019, but said a Mauer statue and a No. 7 Gate are possibilities. “We only have so many gates,” St. Peter said. “(But) all those things are on the table and I think it ultimately will be sequenced. I don’t think they’ll all come at once.”