I fully expected Morneau to be traded at the deadline coming into this season. But now that we've been seeing what kind of leverage teams have over players like this if they make them a qualifying offer, I think it's at least plausible that they keep him around if he turns out to be fully healthy. Then, after the season, they offer him another year at $13/14 million (or whatever qualifying is). He turns it down, they get compensation that would make up for the lack of a trade return. He accepts, great, another year of healthy Morneau.
And I do think that if he stays healthy, Morneau is worth $13 or 14 million. Terry Ryan says that he worries less about overpaying in dollars than he does overpaying in years. Given the opportunity to tack on extra years one by one should be appealing to him, don't you think?
With it only being the second season of the new CBA rules, it's hard to guess what people will be doing at the trade deadline, but it certainly seemed like teams were a bit more reluctant to give up much for the half season rental players. It certainly isn't going to help anything that Morneau has only played 38 games from September 1st on over the last four years. I think if he is doing well it's going to piss off a lot of season ticket holders (who are already a bit pissed at the team) if they get rid of him for some kids who may or may not pan out. It's not like we're going to be able to get the next Mike Trout or Stephen Strausberg for him.
I think you are right though, that if he stays healthy and plays at top form he'll be worth 13+ a year, and I can see the Twins offering him a two year deal, maybe with an option year.
I guess I look at it this way. In two years we could have Buxton, Arcia, and Hicks in the OF, Sano, Rosario, at 2b and 3b, and a slew of hot young pitchers looking to prove themselves. If given the choice between a healthy 34 year old Morneau or a 26 year old Parmelee at 1b, I think I'd definitely take Morneau. That's the kind of thing that could make a difference between a team going 3 and out in divisional play vs. going to game 7 of the world series.