Aug 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau (33) during the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Will Justin Morneau be traded by the Minnesota Twins?

Following the Denard Span trade, I postulated that the Twins were likely to keep Justin Morneau until the 2013 non-waiver trade deadline approached. Because his health has been questionable during recent seasons and his $14 million price tag is steep, it suited the Minnesota Twins to gamble that his value would increase during the first half of the season. Ben Revere could more-than-competently move into center field and could competently take the lead-off role, with Chris Parmelee taking over in right field.

That plan was, of course, shot down last week when Revere was sent to the Phillies.

The Span and Revere trades brought back valuable pitching for now and for the near future. So, while the two will be missed, analysts seem to view the Twins as the winners. The 2013 starting rotation is still full of holes, but the team was slowly and respectably filling in the gaps. Outfield is an area of depth for the Twins, so after getting over the initial surprise that Revere was traded, it wasn’t difficult to recognize that the Twins have centerfield options in Darin Mastroianni, Aaron Hicks, and Joe Benson. Following the Revere trade, I still would have expected the Twins to Morneau around. While two valuable players had left, the (Twins won’t call it a) rebuilding season wasn’t a fire sale.

And then…

The Twins are rumored to have signed RHP Kevin Correia on Monday, and fans were not happy. It’s possible that Correia will turn out to be a diamond in the rough and not a lump of coal, but on the surface, it appears the rumored $10 million/2 year deal is money thrown away. Terry Ryan has said multiple times in multiple places that the Twins have made offers to a number of free agent pitchers, but that it takes two to make a trade. His implication was that there have been offers that weren’t accepted. What worries me most about the probable Correia signing is this: What if Kevin Correia is the best free agent pitcher they can sign because anyone better doesn’t want to sign with the Twins?

If that’s the case, then paying high salaries to current players is a waste of money. Anyone and everyone who can fetch a prospect of any valuable, especially a pitching prospect, should be shopped around the league. This is full-on rebuilding mode. If the Twins have other irons in the fire, as in realistic hopes of respectable pitching for 2013, then continue the “don’t panic” mantra. However, the jury is still out on that, and no decision can be made at least until the Twins officially announce the Correia signing and give some further sense of their direction.

As FA pitchers are signing with other teams and Correia is the only pitcher to voluntarily join the Twins’ staff this offseason, I’m a little more inclined to panic than I was a week ago. And I think Morneau’s place on the team (and indeed, the place of most players on the team) has grown less certain.

I would be very surprised if Morneau finished the 2013 season as a Twin, but whether it was an off-season or pre-trade deadline deal recently became a little tougher to answer.

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  • Mike Zielinski

    Revere went to the Phillies, it was Span who went to the Nationals.

    • PMinell

      Oh dear, of course! It was a little too late in the morning when I finished this one up…

  • Joel Thingvall

    Morneau would be more valuable for a team to have the option of resigning him next year (or for that fact, the Twins to bring him back at a reduced rate). So, should be traded this offseason.

    • Brad Swanson

      I agree with this. I think the perception is that if he improves his value by having a good 2013 first half, he will be easy to trade. Under the old free agent system, that may have been true (with draft pick compensation and whatnot), but under the new system, the acquiring team would not get a pick if he leaves in free agency. The Twins can’t really tender him a qualifying offer, because he might accept. Then, they get nothing for him if he leaves via free agency.

      It is probably better to move him now, and get what you can. There are also no guarantees that he bounces back next year. He might just be a league average first baseman at this point.

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  • Paul Pleiss

    Trade Morneau before the trade deadline, I suspect him to be returning to form in 2013 and a deadline deal will give Twins leverage and will make high level prospect acquisition more probable.