I am slightly unpopular in Twins Territory right now. Why? Because I have explored, perhaps even touted, the notion that Justin Morneau isn’t the player that most Twins fans think he is. He’s certainly not a bad hitter, with a career .358 wOBA, and being worth 86.7 runs above average since the start of his career.
However, Morneau has his drawbacks. For one, he’s not a great defender. Other than one outlier season, he’s been worth anywhere from -1.3 to 2.1 runs above average. Secondly, while Morneau is a very good hitter, he’s not great for a first baseman. He had the 7th highest wOBA last year among qualifying first basemen. Even in his MVP season, he was just 3rd among first basemen in wOBA.
Lastly, Morneau’s salary is a potential hindrance to a team that will potentially be looking to lock up Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Jason Kubel (again) and maybe JJ Hardy in the coming seasons, not to mention Kevin Slowey and any of the other pitchers they decide to extend. Morneau is slated to make 14 million per year from now until the end of his contract after the 2013 season. Morneau has been worth 16.1, 9.9, 15.7 and 14.6 million over the past four years. That works out to 14.075 million per year. Morneau has earned his contract, but hasn’t given the Twins any surplus value. For a small market team such as the Twins (although hopefully we are moving away from that a bit) he might as well have no value at all.
Due to the lack of Morneau’s surplus value and the fact that he is a first baseman, he is worth more to the Twins on the roster than in a trade, especially when looking at the work he does within the community and his likely influence on Joe Mauer staying in Minnesota. However, any Twins fan under the delusion that Morneau is an elite player should undergo a reality check.