No. No, they aren't.
It seems like a ridiculous question. Joe Mauer is owed all of the money. All of it. The Red Sox just rid themselves of three onerous contracts, and their reported goal is to start over. Taking on the $142 million left on Mauer's contract would be a curious way to spend their newfound savings.
To reiterate, that's $142 million. His contract runs through 2018, when he'll be 35. He'll probably catch as many games in 2018 as Josh Willingham. He is not the well-coiffed droid the Red Sox are looking for.
But Ken Rosenthal makes an argument that the Red Sox might be interested.
The Sox could do worse than Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway as their catchers of the future. But Mauer could fill the role that Victor Martinez occupied during the final two months of 2009 and all of 2010, playing catcher, first base and designated hitter.
Go back to the original question posted in the headline, then. Are the Red Sox interested in Joe Mauer? Nope. Not as things currently stand. But what if the Twins ate some salary? Like a lot of salary. Well, as Marc Normandin writes in his response to Rosenthal at Over the Monster, things would be different.
... if the Twins are willing to eat a large chunk of the salary, significantly reducing the annual cost for Mauer, this becomes an entirely different conversation. Not necessarily a must-do for Boston, but a different conversation on the matter, given the financial risks would be lower, and Boston could more easily move him in the future should the need arise. I'm talking, say, $10 million a year covered by the Twins, and even then I'm not interested in moving any of The Bs (Bradley, Barnes, and Bogaerts). Why? Because Boston doesn't have to do this, and therefore, should go all hard line on this. It happens their way or not at all.
Since Rosenthal wrote his article, Mauer passed through waivers without a claim. If another team claimed Mauer, the Twins would have had a really, really tough time pulling him back off waivers. Just like the Red Sox jumped at an opportunity to shed $260 million, the Twins would probably have considered just giving Mauer's contract away. There would be some public-relations fallout. There probably wouldn't be $142 million worth of fallout.
But once you start asking the Twins to eat money, everything changes. Normandin suggests $10 million per year, or $60 million total. The Red Sox would like Mauer for six years and $82 million, sure. A lot of teams would. The Twins would, too, and they wouldn't want to pay $60 million for Mauer to play for another team, even if he would waive his full no-trade clause.
And that's the point. That's why Mauer isn't likely to get traded over the next few seasons. If Mauer declines to the point where Twins fans would understand the team eating a chunk of his contract, that chunk still won't be enough for another team to acquire a declining player. If Mauer keeps hitting like he's hitting, the Twins shouldn't be interested in paying him to go away. What are they going to do with the $80 million they do save? Is there another regional demigod on the market, preferably one who was born and bred in Minnesota, and who has been with the organization since he was a teenager?
If there's any player the Twins are going to spend money on, it's Mauer. They might be uncomfortable with the full contract. But they probably aren't itching to hold a Mauer clearance sale with all sorts of rebates. It's like a scale with dozens and dozens of little weights on either side. Mauer's performance, age, contract, ability to catch, and his popularity in Minnesota are on one side, and the quality of prospects and amount of money another team is willing to absorb is on the other. The balance would have be exact for a deal. It never will be.
Unless the Dodgers get involved and barf a gold brick onto the scale. But that's probably an article for the offseason.
The Red Sox are interested in Mauer. Every team is. But no team has an interest in paying Mauer what the Twins would need to start a new Mauer-less era.