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  • Morneau vs. The Void

    If The Twins Are Willing To Trade Justin Morneau This Offseason, There Should Be Options

    Justin Morneau - Healthy and Rockin AgainLast week, as the trade deadline approached, Justin Morneau was featured in the latest trade rumors. That made sense. First, Morneau had been productive and healthy. Second, Chris Parmelee is raking at first base in AAA but shut out in the majors. Finally, Morneau is still owed about $19M for the rest of this year and next. Moving him would give the Twins that much more money to spend on pitching this offseason.

    No deal was consummated, and it doesnt sound like one was close, but that doesnt mean the end of the rumors.
    Theyll flow into this offseason and will likely gain additional steam because this year the crop of free agent first basemen is so bleak. There is no Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols or even a Paul Konerko in this class.

    The top name? Would you believe the 37-year-old Carlos Lee? Yes, the same Carlos Lee who was already salary dumped this year and then was rumored to be on the block again. He has all of six home runs, but at least hes hitting .292. Now look into the rest of the void.


    Sure, Theyre Old, But At Least Theyre Hurt.
    Lance Berkman
    He has just 75 at-bat this year because hes been out the last two months after knee surgery, and that was following a previous stay on the DL for a calf injury. There will be serious concerns that his 36-year-old body cant take it any more.

    Aubrey Huff
    Similarly, Huff is 35 years old and has only has 61 at-bats this year (and is hitting just .148) because of several DL stints which include an anxiety disorder and knee tendonitis.

    Carlos Pena
    Ok, hes not hurt, but hes hitting .193, so who could tell? He's also 35 years old and still cant hit left-handers. Like the others, hes worth a flyer, but who would rely on him for more than that?

    Bad, But Bad In A Youngish Way
    Casey Kotchman
    Hes just 30 years old, but he has never hit more than 12 home runs in his career, is struggling against left-handers and is hitting just .223.

    James Loney
    Hes the reason the Dodgers were talking to the Twins about Morneau at the deadline. Hes hitting .257 with two home runs. Two As in two more than I have hitting for the Dodgers this year. The only thing he has going for him is that hes only 28 years old.

    Theyre Old. They Also Dont Start.
    Ty Wigginton
    All you need to know about the 35-year-old Wigginton is that the only way hes available is if the Phils DONT pick up a $4M option on him. That should clarify his value.

    Eric Hinske
    Yes, Im talking about the 35-year-old bench player for the Braves for the lat 3 years. He has not seen 400 at-bats from a team since 2005.

    Winner: Justin Morneau
    Morneau, by comparison, is 31 years old, hitting .275 and has 15 home runs. Those numbers dont justify a $14M salary next year. And if he was a free agent, he would not garner any offers for that kind of money annually.

    However, he is also the class of that list. If Morneau was a free agent, right now it looks like a two-year deal (for maybe $16M?) would not be out of the question. A three-year deal might be in play. If he and his agent insisted on a one-year deal (to increase his value for another run at free agency), a $9-10M deal might not be out of the question.

    But more important than the numbers is simply supply and demand. This offseason, the supply of first basemen who can be a middle-of-the-order presence for a competitive team is limited. In fact, it could be just Morneau. If Terry Ryan decides he is willing to trade Morneau either to make room for Parmelee or to free up $14M in cash there sure should be some desperate teams out there.
    This article was originally published in blog: Morneau vs. The Void started by John Bonnes
    Comments 47 Comments
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      What kind of production would Morneau have to have in order for you to consider an extension? After all, in the 2014/15/16, who else will be paying beyond Mauer and inexpensive Willingham*. I'd be tempted to give Morneau Willingham's deal. (Afterall, it ain't our money. /hattip usafchief)

      *I find it hard to believe the Twins would really invest high amounts of dollars in FA pitching, but if the Twins were willing to, trading Morneau for snot rags might be more palatable.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dilligaf69 View Post
      You are taking a chance keeping Justin going into next yr and hoping he stays healthy to MAYBE get a good deal at the deadline. What if the Twins are contending next July??? they won't trade him then... I think he gets moved this winter... Parm needs to play and unless they trade Span(which is probable) then Ben can shift to CF and Parm can play RF everyday, might not be ideal defnsively because of his lack of experience there but Revere would cover alot of Parms ground in right CF and then you can have both Justins and Parmalee's bat in the lineup. Of course Ben would have to cover basically the whole OF with osh in left but hey if Josh, Chris and Justin combine for 85 hr's does it matter
      Yeah, that'd be awful, if the Twin were contending next July.

      Just to be on the safe side, they should take steps now to ensure that doesn't happen.
    1. Craig in MN's Avatar
      Craig in MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      What kind of production would Morneau have to have in order for you to consider an extension? After all, in the 2014/15/16, who else will be paying beyond Mauer and inexpensive Willingham*.

      Willingham's deal will be done after 2014 too. Of course, it's not just the contracts that you have to plan around, it's the rest of the players on the team, particularly in 2014. You already have Willingham, Doumit & Mauer who could fill the DH, C & 1b spots, and perhaps Parmalee. Does it makes more sense to sign Morneau to force Willingham's glove to the outfield or look for an outfielder instead?

      I don't think there's anything Morneau could do to have me give him a 3 year deal. His concussion history is too troubling. I could see giving him a 1 year deal in 2014, or a deal with options. I'd say 1 year, $7 million. If he isn't playing worth near $7 million, he's probably not playing well enough to displace someone else on the team. If he's playing well enough to get more than that, then someone else will be more willing to gamble on him than I would.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      GM's gamble all the time. Look at the White Sox, with Peavey and Rios. Big gambles at the time, not so much now. Or look at the signing bonus given Sano. Morneau is finally hitting lefties again, which means he's back in business. If he keeps hitting like this, he's as big an asset to the Twins as Mauer or Willingham. I'd rather give Morneau big bucks than a Cliff Lee type of free agent pitcher.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Yeah, that'd be awful, if the Twin were contending next July.

      Just to be on the safe side, they should take steps now to ensure that doesn't happen.
      No worries, Terry Ryan's already on it. Bill Smith even gave him a head start.

      It absolutely murders me when Terry Ryan talks about how "free agents don't work" with his "smartest guy in the room" voice, yet the organization has spent the past half decade paying out huge contracts to their own guys before they became free agents. How is this really any different? If you end up overpaying Mauer, Morneau, Pavano, Capps, or Nick Blackburn not because of "market inflation" but because they're "your guys", does the reason really matter to the result?

      If the trade market for Morneau isn't good enough to move him now (or next July), then what's the real risk in waiting out the contract to see if he's still a viable player before you commit 2 or 3 more years to him? Morneau is an extremely popular player, and I think the general fanbase would be abhorred if the Twins traded him. If he chooses to leave to some other team as a FA, then so be it. I think the Aaron Gleeman's of the world totally understand that fanbase aspect of it, but are so tuned into the pragmatic reasons for flipping him for value that they lose sight of how beholden this front office is to player popularity. It's not like they exactly "drove a hard bargain" in signing Mauer. I really can't see them ever trading Morneau.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave T View Post
      GM's gamble all the time. Look at the White Sox, with Peavey and Rios. Big gambles at the time, not so much now. Or look at the signing bonus given Sano. Morneau is finally hitting lefties again, which means he's back in business. If he keeps hitting like this, he's as big an asset to the Twins as Mauer or Willingham. I'd rather give Morneau big bucks than a Cliff Lee type of free agent pitcher.
      Nishioka was a gamble. Doesn't mean I fault the Twins for trying and being so blatantly wrong on him, necessarily, but it helps to point out both the good and bad sides of risk.

      Morneau's in his 30's now. I agree with you that he has value to the team, and they might as well keep him if other teams aren't going to give up good prospects for him. But an extension? Even if he didn't have the terrible concussion problem, plus the wrists, back, and neck to worry about, how much is a 32-35 year-old Morneau really worth? Large power hitters fall off quickly, and they either become something else (like a singles hitter) or are out of the game.

      Morneau hasn't made it through a season since 2008, and even in that year, he broke down physically and struggled terribly through September and October from playing all 163. And as much as I hate to say it, it could be over tomorrow because of the concussions. He could fall backwards like Koskie did, or simply move too fast for a ball or something, and that could be it. Enjoy Morneau for as long as you can - we have him through 2013, and don't need to make any rash decisions.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      No worries, Terry Ryan's already on it. Bill Smith even gave him a head start.

      It absolutely murders me when Terry Ryan talks about how "free agents don't work" with his "smartest guy in the room" voice, yet the organization has spent the past half decade paying out huge contracts to their own guys before they became free agents. How is this really any different? If you end up overpaying Mauer, Morneau, Pavano, Capps, or Nick Blackburn not because of "market inflation" but because they're "your guys", does the reason really matter to the result?

      If the trade market for Morneau isn't good enough to move him now (or next July), then what's the real risk in waiting out the contract to see if he's still a viable player before you commit 2 or 3 more years to him? Morneau is an extremely popular player, and I think the general fanbase would be abhorred if the Twins traded him. If he chooses to leave to some other team as a FA, then so be it. I think the Aaron Gleeman's of the world totally understand that fanbase aspect of it, but are so tuned into the pragmatic reasons for flipping him for value that they lose sight of how beholden this front office is to player popularity. It's not like they exactly "drove a hard bargain" in signing Mauer. I really can't see them ever trading Morneau.
      the trick is to lock up your guys during their prime and then jettison them when they are on the other side... That does work.
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