• Finding A Home For Justin Morneau

    I donít want to trade Justin Morneau. I donít want to be rational about it. I want to clutch onto his comeback, keep it for my own, separate it and gaze at it among the dreck that this (and probably next) season has become. Iíve waited for this, Iíve craved it, and dammit, now I want it.

    Weíll see if I feel the same way in a couple of months, because thatís when the decision will need to be made. For there to be a decision, Morneau needs stay healthy, and he needs show the same kind of production occasionally that heís shown this week. Those are two huge ďIfs.Ē And even then, would there be a market for his $14 million/year contract that goes through 2013?

    I think so. A quick look at the standings and depth charts show a few teams that might be interested. Letís count down the top four that jump out at meÖ.


    #4 Ė Pittsburgh Pirates Ė I doubt that the Pirates, who only have a $51 million payroll, would be willing to take on Morneauís $14 million salary. I also donít know if they view themselves as in contention, sporting a .500 record. But right now, they are just three games back of the Reds in a very weak NL Central. And their first base situation is a complete disaster: right-handed hitting Casey McGehee is hitting .184 and left-handed hitting Garret Jones is hitting .189 this May.

    If the Pirates find themselves close to contention at the end of July, their will be a lot of pressure to do something to boost their anemic offense, and it should start at first base. If the Twins can help the Pirates with the Morneauís salary, one would think they could be compensated with some decent prospects.

    #3 - Cleveland Indians Ė This is a developing situation. First baseman Casey Kotchman has been ineffective. They also have Matt LaPorta, who is raking in AAA, but has a career line of .238/.304/.397 in the majors. Plus, at 27 years old, itís not like heís really a prospect any more Ė more like another option. Their big left-handed bat, Travis Hafner, is just coming back from an injury, and his health is always a question mark. And all bets are off if Carlos Santana has his own concussion problems.

    But with there are enough ingredients here to keep a watchful eye. Their first base situation is terrible. Theyíre contending. Hafnerís salary comes off the books next year. They showed last year theyíll be aggressive when it comes to trades. With the right mix, they could be very interested in acquiring, even overpaying, for Morneau.

    #2 Toronto Blue Jays Ė I donít know if Toronto, who is a game over .500 but in fourth place in their division, really views themselves as being a contender. But if ever they were going to make a push, it might be a good idea to do so in a year that there are two wild card teams and the Red Sox are busy imploding. Their initial first base solution, Adam Lind, was demoted to AAA. Morneauís left-handed bat would look pretty nice with the right-handed bats of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

    Oh, and I donít know if youíve heard this or not, but Morneau is from Canada.

    #1 Miami Marlins Ė Hereís the right mix of contention, spending and frustration. The Marlins trail the Nationals by just a couple of games. They have certainly signaled to the baseball world this offseason that they arenít afraid to spend some money in their new ballpark. And 24-year-old prospect Logan Morrison is declining in his third major league year, hitting just .233 with a .323 slugging percentage. Finally, their lineup is desperately in need of a strong left-handed bat to balance the right-handed bats of Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton.

    The NL East looks like itís going to be a bit of a mess all year, and winnable by any number of teams. (In fact, I could probably add a fifth team from that division Ė the Mets Ė to this list if I thought they were for real.) A pickup like Morneau is the kind of puzzle piece that GMs in that situation can get awfully excited about.
    This article was originally published in blog: Finding A Home For Justin Morneau started by John Bonnes
    Comments 34 Comments
    1. chaderic20's Avatar
      chaderic20 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I'd add Texas to the mix. They need a 1B. I think that's a good place for Span too. They need a leadoff hitter and a CF.

      I agree that people will be disappointed by how much the Twins could get for Morneau at this point. I odn't know about A prospects, but if not an A, there needs to be 3-4 Bs (that the scouts/TR think can become an impact player). There's just so much risk with keeping Morneau.
      Seth, what do you think Texas would be willing to give up in return for BOTH Morneau and Span, if they were packaged together? What do they have for prospects?
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I'd add Philly in the list as well. Another team that might be also interested in Span and got plenty of good MLB-ready young pitching to deal.
    1. whydidnt's Avatar
      whydidnt -
      Uggh, what's the hurry to deal Morneau, he has little trade value right now because of the injuries. So why trade a potential MVP type player for questionable prospects. You know the Twins aren't going to take the $14 Mil and invest in a quality starter if he's not around. I say the best thing to do is to see how he performs the rest of the season and then make a decision. I hate to see them let him go as they have NO ONE anywhere near ready to come up and replace him and his offense. Just because it's a lost year, doesn't mean you throw away guys that could be decent assets for nothing. If they got offered a Texiera like deal, I'd have no problem with trading him, but that's not going to happen. Trading a potential MVP type player for a B level prospect just doesn't interest me. We know Morneau has risks, but so does a B level prospect, with the prospect probably being a bigger risk to ever produce a the ML level. I'd rather have Morneau here than another 20+ million in the Pohlad's pockets.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      The swings in perspective on Morneau are so dramatic I can't even keep track. At the start of the year, it was widely assumed by many that he (a) was banished to DH for the remainder of his career; (b) might try and play 5-10 games before realizing his concussion symptoms came back and hung it up for good; or (c) was healthy enough to stay in the lineup, but his focus and timing had been so affected by the concussion problems that he wouldn't be any good anymore.

      Morneau had a slow start, hit two homeruns in New York, then he sucked for another week or so before missing May 1st through 15th due to one of his OTHER injuries. Not the head, not the neck, but the wrist. And, of course, he's been mostly terrific since coming back to the lineup, and is also playing regular first base. But it's been two weeks. And as much as I love Morneau as a player, I'm just skeptical that the rest of the league loves him enough to go from "this guy's done" to "hey, we should TRADE for this guy's contract" in a period of just a few weeks.

      The concussion concerns are never going away. The next time he has one, he's basically done, a fact which Morneau has bascially acknowledged. Morneau couldn't even finish 162-game seasons BEFORE his concussion problems resurfaced in 2010, and he has a laundry list of other nagging issues that could still pop up at any time. He's clearly still capable of being a terrific player when everything is right, but how often will that be? I think even in a realistic deal, the returns for Morneau will appear disappointing to a fan base that still values this guy as a "star" player, and the de facto "leader" of this team. I don't think it makes sense to trade him simply because we don't have much else to trade and we're supposed to be rebuilding. I'm just not sure that the returns for Morneau would actually be better than the potential of keeping him and possibly having a productive player for a few more seasons, even if intermittently.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      I guess I don't buy the "can't get an A-list prospect" for Morneau. It was only a couple of years ago that the Indians were able to get Carlos Santana for 34-year-old Casey Blake because they helped cover the rest of Blake's contract. The Twins could stand to pay the remainder (or most) of his contract and get an A-list prospect in return, in my opinion.

      The part this is at least equally as concerning as the concussions, is that he's had various other ailments almost consistantly since 2009. On the other hand, though, he was on an MVP pace that year too. If he can stay healthy for another month and a half, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Morneau is the most sought-after player at the deadline. MOST NL teams (which isn't the ideal destination) have issues at 1B. Quick, who's the best NL first basemen not named Joey Votto? (Look it up, it's scarier than I thought!)
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      If he proves he's healthy until the trade deadline Morneau would bring back a better return than many people are predicting here. John listed the Pirates, Blue Jays, Marlins, Indians and Mets as possible suitors and others in this thread have mentioned the Cardinals, Rangers, Phillies and I'd throw in the Dodgers with their new ownership, poor 1B play and division lead.

      It's all about supply and demand. There is a ton of demand for a power hitting firstbaseman and very little supply. If multiple teams are interested, odds are the Twins are going to get a fantastic offer from one of them. If he can show he can stay healthy, he is definately a player that could put a contending team over the hump, and that is what teams are actually paying for.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Give up and trade your team away. You are whips! What kind of product are you going to put on the field when all the vets are gone? A bunch of AAA kids that can't hold there own.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      I remain skeptical about the Twins dealing Morneau. That said, were he to remain healthy and productive into July, he would likely be the highest impact bat on the market, and IMO the fact he's signed reasonably thru next year makes him worth more, not less.

      Were he healthy and on the market, the Twins should, and could expect a very attractive return.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      I agree with those who say we should hold out for an A-prospect, and if that doesn't materialize we should hang on to him. Is there risk? Of course, but there's risk in every decision you make. I have not been a big Morneau fan this year; he's just been too inconsistent - spurts where the old Justin is back, and spurts where he looks anemic at the plate. But if he can get on a tear and regain even 80% of his former form, he provides more value by playing than by anything we can get back in trade, unless that includes someone already or soon-to-be MLB quality.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      Morneau couldn't even finish 162-game seasons BEFORE his concussion problems resurfaced in 2010...
      Is that the same Morneau who played 477 games over three consecutive seasons including a 163-games-played year?
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      B prospects? How many of those did they get for Santana? Much better off waiting for him to put distance behind his injuries and continue to hit for power. It he continues on that track in respect to both he will be in incredible demand at some point.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Lots of opinions here. Thanks. The one take away that I am taking is that there are certainly teams that could use him and could afford him. That makes this more of a topic than I thought it was 48 hours ago.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      I guess I don't buy the "can't get an A-list prospect" for Morneau. It was only a couple of years ago that the Indians were able to get Carlos Santana for 34-year-old Casey Blake because they helped cover the rest of Blake's contract. The Twins could stand to pay the remainder (or most) of his contract and get an A-list prospect in return, in my opinion.
      The trade was in 2008. You might have included that Baseball America ranked Carlos Santana as the Dodger's (not MLB's) 25th ranked prospect entering 2008. By the trade, he was midway through a breakout season as a 22 year old in A-Ball. Entering 2010, Santana was the Baseball America's #10 MLB prospect but he had been an Indian for one and a half years.

      In this case, I would agree that the Twins can get an organization's 25th best prospect entering this season for Morneau. Let's hope they choose as well as the Indians.
    1. Purple Domino's Avatar
      Purple Domino -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I'd add Texas to the mix. They need a 1B. I think that's a good place for Span too. They need a leadoff hitter and a CF.

      I agree that people will be disappointed by how much the Twins could get for Morneau at this point. I odn't know about A prospects, but if not an A, there needs to be 3-4 Bs (that the scouts/TR think can become an impact player). There's just so much risk with keeping Morneau.
      As much as I dont want to see Morneau go, all the Twins do is NOT trade guys...and then we bitch about it when the rumored prospects we could have had, dominate. Ellsbury, Lester, etc etc. The fact of the matter is this: Morneau HEALTHY at $14m dosent make us a playoff team. Neither does a bunch of crap prospects that would free up money. If i had to chose one of the two for the future, prospects is the way to go and more payroll space.

      The other options are to wait until next year and let Morneau become more of an asset. Of course, some team may whore themselves out come July and make an offer that is worth it, in which case...you take it. But he longer the Twins wait, the more desparate THEY become, and other teams take advantage...ie Santana.

      Trade Span, trade Morneau and trade Willingham (if the price is right, because I do like him as a RH in our lineup if we some how become competitive in the next 2 years....but still, if he's got value...stock up.

      With tenderness,
      Purple Domino (@Purple_Domino)
      WhatWouldBudDo.com
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