Justin Morneau was placed on revocable waivers Monday. In my household we were hoping a team would claim him and the Twins would pull him back to ensure he would remain in Minnesota for the rest of the 2013 season. Unfortunately such an idyllic scenario didn’t play out. Instead Morneau went unclaimed and as of this afternoon had officially cleared waivers.
The byproduct of this is that any of the other 29 teams can now negotiate with the Twins and work out a trade to acquire him. That doesn’t mean that a trade will happen of course but there are certainly teams out there with interest in his services. Thus far, Terry Ryan has smartly taken the stance that he’s not going to just give away players. He understands more clearly than most what Justin Morneau means to the fanbase of the team and I don’t believe he will move the 32-year old 1B unless the return can have a legitimate impact on the team’s future at the major league level.
Still it’s certainly possible another team makes the Twins an offer they can’t pass up and based on what Ryan was able to get in return for Drew Butera truly anything can happen.
Morneau has hit three doubles and six home runs in 13 games so far in August giving him a 0.643 SLG for the month (and he has another double today). That spike in power is certainly going to attract attention and it’s also notable that 10 of his 14 home runs this season have been hit since July 4th. His 0.268 BA in 56 August at bats is respectable, especially when it comes with nine extra base hits. Morneau’s 0.293 OBP this month represents an improvement over his July mark of 0.266 but it is still below his monthly OBP splits for April, May and June.
Oddly enough despite the jump in his slugging percentage, that 0.643 mark in August is third on the Twins roster trailing Brian Dozier (0.661) and Oswaldo Arcia (0.660). Those two rank 15th and 16th respectively in all of baseball for the month while Morneau is 18th.
I remain in the “retain Morneau” camp and still strongly believe the best course of action is to sign him to an extension. I freely admit that emotion plays a significant factor in my stance but it is also well-grounded in what’s best for the team in the near future as well. However, the team is in a position with his recent power surge that he could provide a decent return for what amounts to a brief rental.
The Twins aren’t going to make him a qualifying offer at the end of the season if he is still on their roster and even under the old draft pick compensation rules it’s not likely that he would have qualified as a type A or type B free agent given his general level of performance in 2012 and 2013. Morneau seems very sincere and rather vocal in his desire to remain with the organization beyond this season and the Twins lack anything resembling a viable replacement at his position. As such it’s not unreasonable to think about a scenario where he gets dealt, plays elsewhere for a couple months, and then signs a new deal with Minnesota as a free agent this winter. A two year, reasonably priced deal would seem to be ideal from the Twins perspective and could be ideal for Morneau as well.
Of course hanging on to him and signing him to a new deal may be even better for both sides from a public relations standpoint. I know my 9-year old son would be much happier with the team if they don’t trade his favorite player and frankly I’m right there with him.