Will the addition of the second Wild Card change the way baseball teams conduct their business heading toward the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline? As of June 28, only six teams were out of either their division or Wild Card by more than double-digits. Could it mean less potential trades in the next few weeks? Over the next couple weeks, we’ll look at some players who could be on the move to a contender.
Candidate: Justin Morneau, Twins first baseman.
Team Position: 35-40, six games back in AL Central; 6.5 back in Wild Card.
Why Twins would trade him: The 2006 American League MVP is the last year of a six-year $80 million deal signed in 2008. Moving Morneau would clear a path for Joe Mauer to play first base on a regular basis.
Who would want him?: The Yankees, maybe, now that Mark Teixeira is done for the season. A team that still thinks it’s 2005.
Pros: Adding Morneau would be a boost to your fanbase based on name reputation and prior accomplishments. (Side bonus: Morneau could bring an influx of Canadian ex-Pats to the ballpark to support their countryman.)
Cons: The British Columbia-born slugger isn’t, well, much of a slugger anymore with a paltry three home runs in 2013. There’s a reason he high-fived invisible teammates after his first homer in two months the other night. He hasn’t been the same since the concussion in Toronto during the 2010 season, when he was slugging .618 prior to the injury. From 2011 to 2013 his slash line (heading into this week) checked in at .262/.322/.400.
It seems doubtful, even as a two-month rental, teams will be rushing out to grab a corner infielder who’s now slugging south of .400 in 2013. More than that, most contenders tend to be set at first base. Morneau does have 20 doubles and perhaps a move away from Target Field would help him, but 23 extra base hits in 271 at bats from a corner infielder is rough.
Verdict: Morneau is still a decent RBI guy (43 in 2013), but even with his favorable contract status trading partners would probably be leery of giving up anything of value for him. Minnesota is in need of power pitching arms in its organization, a trade for Morneau likely won’t yield any of these, or any who don’t come with some risk. The Twins might as well keep him and make a decision if it’s worth bringing him back after the season on a low-risk one-year contract.
[Photo by Getty]