• Finding A Home For Justin Morneau

    I don’t want to trade Justin Morneau. I don’t 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. I’ve waited for this, I’ve craved it, and dammit, now I want it.

    We’ll see if I feel the same way in a couple of months, because that’s 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 he’s shown this week. Those are two huge “Ifs.” 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. Let’s count down the top four that jump out at me….


    #4 – Pittsburgh Pirates – I doubt that the Pirates, who only have a $51 million payroll, would be willing to take on Morneau’s $14 million salary. I also don’t 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 Morneau’s salary, one would think they could be compensated with some decent prospects.

    #3 - Cleveland Indians – 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, it’s not like he’s really a prospect any more – 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. They’re contending. Hafner’s salary comes off the books next year. They showed last year they’ll 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 – I don’t 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. Morneau’s left-handed bat would look pretty nice with the right-handed bats of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

    Oh, and I don’t know if you’ve heard this or not, but Morneau is from Canada.

    #1 Miami Marlins – Here’s 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 aren’t 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 it’s 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 – the Mets – 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. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      What is the impact of Morneau's no trade clause?

      Given his contract and health, I would think most of us would be disappointed with the return we will get for Morneau. I would expect one B prospect and one or two other less significant prospects. The Twins could improve the level of return by taking on some of the salary risk. I would prefer the health and contract risk of keeping him.

      With both Morneau and Span, the Twins need to play hardball. If they are not traded, I see it as a positive sign that the Twins are only going to trade away one of their few assets if they are blown away by the deal. Let's not expect that kind of offer will present itself.
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      Nothing under an A prospect, and even then, the Pohlad's will take a big public relations hit.
      There are a couple of B prospects playing at Midway Stadium, and they can be had for free.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Highabove View Post
      Nothing under an A prospect,
      I agree. I just don't think it is reasonable to expect that offer. Let's keep him instead.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      It seems to me that if they trade him, it should be for an A level prospect, even if the Twins have to pick up some salary. It's time to start acting like a mid-market level team and spending some dollars on rebuilding.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      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.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Unless the Twins eat nearly all of his salary I doubt the Twins are offered anything more than a few low minors type players. Morneau's risk and lack of ability to hit lefty's make him only a decent option for these teams.

      The Orioles picked up Chris Davis for basically nothing when his salary was basically zero and I feel that Davis is a good comp for Mornaeu talent wise at this point. Both have bad platoon splits, play decent 1B and have good power. Davis has better positional flexibility (3B) and age is on his side. Again, I don't see Morny bringing much in return.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      I have always felt that Morneau was the "heart and soul" of this team -- much more so than Mauer. But as far as I am concerned there is not a single player who is off the trading blocks.

      The Twins should be entertaining all offers on every player. And if there are deals that can be worked (taking no trade clauses into account) that will improve the future of this team, then they need to be made. I continue to wait for the Twins to demonstrate that they have a plan that will not only return this team to contention in the Central but will make them realistic contenders in the post-season.
    1. kirbyelway's Avatar
      kirbyelway -
      St Louis is number 1, they will gamble on an injury plagued proven star. I am convinced they will make a run at him since they lost Berkman.
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      I also feel that Morneau is the heart and soul of the current team. I don't care if his stats are comparable to Chris Davis--the gut tells me the team is far better when he is in the lineup. Unless he is on fire and brings back a true prospect, I'd hate to see him go.

      Having said that, for some reason St. Louis seems like the place.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Don't trade Morneau. Already Cuddy is gone, and this team needs a leader.
    1. kirbyelway's Avatar
      kirbyelway -
      I truly feel Morneau is back and still has a few great years ahead of him. Minnesota is not going to contend in those years, so we need to hope his next 2 months are huge and we will get a good return for him if we trade. St Louis has gambled on Berkman, Beltran and Furcal, so for them to gamble on Morneau is not a reach. He is my favorite Twin and I would love to see him shine on a contending team!
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, "folks" think Roy Oswalt will decide on a team this week.

      We're assuming those "folks" are baseball folks. The Rangers are considered the favorite to sign the veteran right-hander, but the Orioles, Red Sox, Phillies, Dodgers and Brewers have also been mentioned as possibilities. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported Sunday that he's looking for a prorated $7.5 million contract.

      TheTwins better get in the bidding if they want to save some face and there jobs!
    1. Yoshii's Avatar
      Yoshii -
      Why would we trade Morneau? Look at all his production this week alone, and the fans love him so much. Im sure he will be healthy forever now too.

      I am almost crying at the thought of him in another uniform.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by Top Gun View Post
      According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, "folks" think Roy Oswalt will decide on a team this week.

      We're assuming those "folks" are baseball folks. The Rangers are considered the favorite to sign the veteran right-hander, but the Orioles, Red Sox, Phillies, Dodgers and Brewers have also been mentioned as possibilities. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported Sunday that he's looking for a prorated $7.5 million contract.

      TheTwins better get in the bidding if they want to save some face and there jobs!
      Save face? What's the point of spending $7.5 million to turn a 100 loss team into a 95 loss team?

      Not to mention that the Twins, if they were even interested, would likely have to pony up more dough than any of those other teams because of the teams you've listed they're the least desirable destination. Just say NO to Oswalt.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      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.
      It's a tough move to deal Morneau. His injury history will keep teams from making a big offer on him, even if he stays healthy and keeps slugging. He's a fan-favorite and draw at the ballpark and if healthy his contract is reasonable. His value just hasn't come back enough yet for me to advocate trading him. Parmelee feel back to earth, so it's not like we have a built-in replacement. (Sorry, sports fans, I refuse to get on the "Joe Mauer will move to 1B" bandwagon, for several reasons. 1) Mauer is a great catcher. 2) Mauer wants to play catcher, and Gardy will play guys where they want to play. 3) If Mauer moves to our primary 1B, Butera will become our regular catcher, which will be very ugly once his OPS comes back down to earth. Eesh.)

      Now, if a team comes at us with a big offer, it'd be hard to say no. But I don't think we'll get that big offer. I think it's more likely we'll get low-balled as teams hope we'll just dump salary in a losing year and sell low on a former MVP. I don't want to see Justin go. But I'd do it for the right price. But it'd better be for the right price, not just any price.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I don't think we can trade Morneau this year. The payoff wouldn't be that great with questions about his health and the contract still lingering. He'd be more valuable next year, if we aren't in contention (but we will be, of course!). Willingham could be worth something this year, though.
    1. LegendOfTheArctic's Avatar
      LegendOfTheArctic -
      Interesting list. I definitely view Toronto as a trade partner, and they have some solid young starting pitching prospects. I think the Rangers would be a good idea as well. They're definitely a contender, and 1B has been their only weakness.

      As for Cleveland, I know the Twins are sometimes willing to trade within the division, but would they really trade one of their stars to a rival? Anyway, Cleveland sent all their good pitching prospects to Colorado last year, so the Twins wouldn't get much in Return.

      Like the previous commenter, I'd be sad to see Morneau leave, but it would be stupid to hang onto him. I just hope the Twins get good prospects in return.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      We have already let Nate, Young, Kubel, Cuddyer, ect, go. We better not let anyone else go or we won't have a team!
    1. cr9617's Avatar
      cr9617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      Don't trade Morneau. Already Cuddy is gone, and this team needs a leader.
      A team leader isn't all that valuable when you lose 100+ games.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Morneau might be my favorite player. I like watching doubles and the potential for home runs in my hitters, it's entertaining to me. But, if you can get legit prospect(s) for him, you have to consider it, do it. This team is not likely to contend next year, frankly. Not unless they go out and sign 3+ players in FA that are legit MLB starters. So, at that point, everyone should be available for the right price.
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