I don't buy it. If Morneau's $14 came off the books they'd invest $6-7M tops back into the payroll. Last year losing the salaries of Cuddyer, Natan, Kubel, Capps, Young, Thome and Slowey saved them about $43M, while they reinvested about $20 back into the payroll with Willingham, Doumit, Marquis, Carroll, Zumaya and re-signing Capps. The money they save from Morneau maybe will get them a Joe Saunders, I'd pass and hope for more improvement from Morneau next year.
I can't claim that the Twins won't get a bunch of 3rd-tier free agents instead of some premier guys. I expect they will. But the argument that only "some" of the $14M will be spent on free agents doesn't hold water. Here's how it works:
1) Right now, the Twins payroll is about $100M.
2) The remaining guys on the Twins payroll (including Morneau) cost about $76M next year.
3) So pick a number for payroll next year. Say you think payroll will go down $15M again. That would make it $85M.
4) If you don't trade Morneau, the team has $9M to spend on free agents. If they do, they have $23M to spend on free agents.
So long as you think the Twins payroll doesn't dip beneath what they already have committed - $76M or a $24M decrease - all of the $14M will be spent. Now, what they spend it on is a different story. But any money cleared will be available for free agents.
The problem with the say you look at it is some of that money they "saved" by not re-signing people has already been committed to other players. But that's all included in the $76M number.