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  • Does Ben Revere’s Departure Portent Justin Morneau Trade?

    It was the second big trade of the offseason for the Minnesota Twins, and the second concrete indicator to the league and to fans that General Manager Terry Ryan is looking beyond 2013. Indeed, it was the second time in which a trade likely made the Twins worse for the 2013, instead of better.

    Which is odd, because this is a great trade. Ben Revere has plenty of value, but was not without question marks and could be replaceable as early as the second half of this year. The pitchers the Twins received in return, Vance Worley and Trevor May, are also not without question marks, but they’re exactly what the Twins needed to get – young, cheap pitching that can contribute in the majors.
    But the Twins offseason has seemingly pivoted since the TwinsCentric interview with Terry Ryan. If the focus for the organization is not on 2013, then what does the future hold for Justin Morneau, who becomes a free agent following this season? Let’s see have a looks at the pros and cons with which the front office might be wrestling…

    Pro: 2013 is toast….
    Con: ….but you might still want people to come to the ballpark.

    As starting pitching free agents are snapped up, the Twins are increasingly unlikely to compete in 2013. But the Twins are also just starting their fourth year in their new stadium, have the All-Star Game coming in 2014, and are looking to rebound soon after with the prospects that are brimming from their minor leagues.

    It’s always a lot easier to retain customers than to get new ones. Morneau, besides serving as a veteran presence in the clubhouse for new players, can bridge that competitive gap for fans, especially those casual fans who might be more cynical about the future of the team. It doesn’t hurt that he and his wife are well-liked and active in the community. He is more than just another bat – he’s an ambassador at an especially fragile time for the organization.

    Pro: He can be replaced by Chris Parmelee….
    Con: ….but who replaces Chris Parmelee?

    The Twins have a left-handed first baseman in the wings, Chris Parmelee, who launched himself up the prospect charts with a monster season in AAA-Rochester last year. But with both Denard Span and Revere gone, Parmelee already has a spot waiting for him in the outfield. What’s more, the prospect mostly likely to be ready in 2013, Aaron Hicks, is already earmarked to move into center field.

    If Parmelee moves to first, that means filling his spot with either Joe Benson, who had a terrible 2012 in Rochester and AA-New Britain, or Oswaldo Arcia, who is only a half year removed from High A-Fort Myers. Both COULD get a shot, and both might if the Twins look at 2013 as a year to invest in youngsters. But neither is a great bet to thrive real soon.

    Pro: Teams are looking for big bats…
    Con: ….but will be looking for big bats at the trade deadline, too.

    There is really only one good first baseman on the free agent market – Adam LaRoche – and he seems to have no lack of suitors. One of them, the Orioles, has already been linked to Morneau in trade rumors, for whatever that is worth. The Twins told reporters not to believe everything they hear, but they said that about trading Revere, too. There is a market for Morneau.

    But the market could be there in July, too. At that point, he’ll hopefully have four more healthy months behind him. If he hits like he did the second half of last year, he’ll have a track record to generate plenty of interest. (Hell, if that’s the case, the Twins might even think of extending him.) Finally, he won’t cost his new team $14M, but closer to $5M, making him that much more attractive.
    Hmm… speaking of money…..

    Pro: He’s owed $14M this season….
    Con: ….but the Twins aren’t going to spend it anyway….
    Pro: ….unless they use it to pay Morneau on his new team.

    The biggest single reason to consider trading Morneau this offseason was to free up $14M to spend on starting pitching. Even if the Twins traded Morneau for nothing, the $14M would have been enough to get a top flight pitcher, like Dan Haren, who signed a one-year deal this week for less than that.

    But now, that $14M likely isn’t leaving the Twins coffers. Frontline starting pitching isn’t just expensive – it’s expensive long-term. Ryan fears giving players contracts that are one or two years longer than is sane, and it appears that will be the case for the majority of top pitchers remaining. At this point, it’s debatable if the Twins are going to spend the $20-30M we thought they would. An extra $14M isn’t going to help.

    But on the third hand, this would free up the Twins to make the kind of trade that (to my knowledge) they have NEVER done. They could trade away a big contract, but pick up a chunk of the cost for an excellent prospect. The Orioles might not be willing to give up much for a $14M Morneau. The might give up a tremendous amount for a $10M Morneau.

    So which way do you go? To me, the path isn’t clear, but the answer is. The answer? “He’s available, for the right price.” That’s what the answer has been for the better part of six months now, and the price has been too high. With the Twins new focus on 2014 and beyond, I won’t be surprised if some new customers don’t stop by to see just how available Morneau might be.
    This article was originally published in blog: Does Ben Revere’s Departure Portend Justin Morneau Trade? started by John Bonnes
    Comments 45 Comments
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      Other teams are going to try to get us to sell low. If Ryan learns nothing else from the Revere trade, it's "sell high". I don't want Morneau to go anywhere, but if you've gotta trade him, then wait until July and hope he is ahead of Cabrera by then on the Triple Crown stats.
    1. jacku641's Avatar
      jacku641 -
      Here's another scenario that says they don't trade him. What if Morneau tells the Twins that this is it. On advice of doctors and at the request of his wife he's going to retire after this season and would like to finish where he started. I have no reason to believe that this is true, but I'm just saying...
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      2 year 20-24 million extension after spring training. Morneau retires a Twin. I don't see him getting traded.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I think we keep him til the deadline.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      yeah, we're talking a lot about CF with Benson/Hicks/Mastroianni... however, Arcia is probably the most big-league ready of the bunch, and if RF were to open up, I think they'd be pretty comfortable going to him.
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      If the Twins had a good lead off hitter (Hicks?), a combination of these 3 for $30 million Shawn Marcum, Joe Saunders, Kevin Correia, Brett Myers, Brandon McCarthy, Jair Jurrjens to go with Worley and Diamond for our rotation. I see no reason to get rid of Morny since we should be able to compete with that rotation and line up if Plouffe plays well and someone steps up at both 2nd and short.
    1. Petey Javo's Avatar
      Petey Javo -
      Since we are building for 2014 I would have a pretty high price tag for Morneau right now as his value can easily go up with a few hot hitting months. This guy was going blow for blow with miguel for the triple crown not that long ago. Plus I think there is a legit chance of getting some a discount if we choose to extend him due to his connections here. It may be risky but that is what we need right now as many affordable high risk high upside guys to maximize our odds of hit the proverbial home run.
    1. ericchri's Avatar
      ericchri -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      yeah, we're talking a lot about CF with Benson/Hicks/Mastroianni... however, Arcia is probably the most big-league ready of the bunch, and if RF were to open up, I think they'd be pretty comfortable going to him.
      Arcia is closer than Hicks? Man I want more information on these guys. While Arcia looks like a better overall hitter, I thought he still had a loop in his swing or something like that? Or am I misremembering that? Most of what I've read is that both probably aren't quite ready yet, but I thought Hicks was supposedly the best defensive OF (including best arm) in the Twins system, and I can live with struggles at the plate if he plays stellar defense. I just don't know anything about Arcia as a defensive player.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Quote Originally Posted by ericchri View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      yeah, we're talking a lot about CF with Benson/Hicks/Mastroianni... however, Arcia is probably the most big-league ready of the bunch, and if RF were to open up, I think they'd be pretty comfortable going to him.
      Arcia is closer than Hicks? Man I want more information on these guys. While Arcia looks like a better overall hitter, I thought he still had a loop in his swing or something like that? Or am I misremembering that? Most of what I've read is that both probably aren't quite ready yet, but I thought Hicks was supposedly the best defensive OF (including best arm) in the Twins system, and I can live with struggles at the plate if he plays stellar defense. I just don't know anything about Arcia as a defensive player.
      Hicks, Buxton & Benson are the 3 best, by far, as all have Gold Glove potential.
      Arcia has been compared to Jason Kubel---pre knee injury---defensively...if you remember how he was(much more range)
    1. Jeff P's Avatar
      Jeff P -
      I think your first point is the one that many here underestimate: it must be pretty frustrating for season ticket holders right now. While I would be in favor of trading Morneau for good price, I can't blame them if they turn down a fair offer in part to keep a recognizable face for the fans.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Morneau has always seemed to be a better fit for a July trade to me. His salary is much less of a problem at that point and he, hopefully, have another successful half season under his belt. Of course resigning him is still a possibility but if that happens I have to think Parmelee's days are numbered.
    1. BeefMaster's Avatar
      BeefMaster -
      Maybe this doesn't count because it wasn't a particularly big contract or particularly good prospects, but the Twins have thrown salary relief into a trade before - they picked up most of Brendan Harris' contract when they dumped him on the Orioles in the JJ Hardy trade.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      Morneau has always seemed to be a better fit for a July trade to me. His salary is much less of a problem at that point and he, hopefully, have another successful half season under his belt. Of course resigning him is still a possibility but if that happens I have to think Parmelee's days are numbered.
      They still need a DH, and an aging Morneau could spend some time there as well. I'm not against keeping both of them if Mauer ends up catching more and Doumit ends up more as the backup catcher with an occasional start at DH or RF... Parmalee could be an offensive force, and a healthy Morneau most definitely is one.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      Morneau has always seemed to be a better fit for a July trade to me. His salary is much less of a problem at that point and he, hopefully, have another successful half season under his belt. Of course resigning him is still a possibility but if that happens I have to think Parmelee's days are numbered.
      They still need a DH, and an aging Morneau could spend some time there as well. I'm not against keeping both of them if Mauer ends up catching more and Doumit ends up more as the backup catcher with an occasional start at DH or RF... Parmalee could be an offensive force, and a healthy Morneau most definitely is one.
      Mauer is 30 years old this year so I guess I see him out from behind the plate within the next 2 years. He has guaranteed money through 2018 and I have to think the the Twins are concerned about him holding up that long, I know I would be concerned if he stays behind the dish that whole time. If anyone wants to do some research it would make an interesting blog topic on when great catchers have started to move from behind the plate and how that affected their career length and quality. If Morneau gets another, let's say 3 year contract, that locks up DH and 1B. I just think Parmelee isn't going to stick long term in the OF given the prospects moving up in the next year. I guess maybe the Twins could trade Willingham and leave Parmelee in the OF with 2/3 of Benson/Hicks/Arcia depending on who pans out.
    1. savvyspy's Avatar
      savvyspy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeff P View Post
      I think your first point is the one that many here underestimate: it must be pretty frustrating for season ticket holders right now. While I would be in favor of trading Morneau for good price, I can't blame them if they turn down a fair offer in part to keep a recognizable face for the fans.
      What's frustrating for this 8 year season ticket holder is back to back 90 loss seasons and being told we should keep a $14 million "ambassador" rather than trade him for young talent that will ultimately lead the team back to 90 WIN seasons.

      Unfortunately this team can lose 90 games just as easily with Morneau as the can without him. I'd like to at least see a payoff down the line. There was NOTHING ryan could do to make this team a factor in 2013 anyway. They have taken the exact correct approach.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      There is a "winter fever" if you will where GM's make speculative trades and free agent signings for the purpose of substantially improving their team--just witness the PHL/Twins trade. Morneau hasn't been (publicly) dangled, but it is no secret to other GMs that the Twins are rebuilding--they will have inquired about Morneau. There are multiple teams thinking of Josh Hamilton. But when he signs--the losers will resort to Plan B--and I would expect serious inquiries about Morneau's availability and "cost". The iron is hot and will get white hot soon for Morneau. Just ask youself how excited you were when you read that Revere was traded--for major league pitching! and more! PHL is excited about Revere. Believe me if Morneau is traded there will be major buzz in his new team--and these guys will gladly (over)pay! July? Pitchers/catchers/salary dumps--the time is right after Hamilton signs.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      While I wouldn't write off 2013 yet, it is clear that even with good performances from whoever is picked up to fill out the rotation, a lot of other things will have to go very well for the Twins to be competitive. Ryan seemed to indicate this afternoon on MLB Network that he is not looking to trade anyone else. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

      I kind of think that the Twins really need to look at Parmelee and Plouffe. They need to show they can actually hit for more than a month during the season. Plouffe needs to show he can play 3B. If Parmelee is adequate in RF well that helps as well. Keeping Morneau around for a few more seasons wouldn't be a bad thing. I really doubt if Parmelee or Plouffe are ever going to be true middle of the order bats. If Arcia is going to be, it isn't to going be immediately , even if he is nearly ready to play in the majors.

      Whether the Twins are contenders or not in 2013, I think they have to determine whether Dozier and/or Floriman can actually be big league starters. Quite possibly by the middle of the season the Twins might know who they want to keep out of their secondary pieces. It will make it easier to decide whether or not to trade Willingham or Morneau. And perhaps even more importantly, what they need to target in return.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by savvyspy View Post
      What's frustrating for this 8 year season ticket holder is back to back 90 loss seasons
      Do you think this is the floor for where the 2013 season could go, if they do a complete fire sale? How does 110 losses grab you?
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave T View Post
      If Ryan learns nothing else from the Revere trade, it's "sell high".
      Yeah, Terry Ryan's OJT is just about complete.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      I think it's hard to know on Morneau, but I would guess no trade.

      If the Twins manage to sign a pitcher like Dempster or Marcum to shore up the rotation further, add an additional vet for the back end/insurance, suddenly the rotation looks solid with Marcum/Dempster, Diamond, Worley, Gibson, Hendriks/De Vries/Walters/Waldrop/FA #2. It's one thing to go in the season needing 2 guys to step up from that last pack, another to be looking for 1.

      Honestly, they should still have money to look for help at 2B/SS to have insurance against Dozier/Florimon not being ready/MLB-quality AND get a quality 3B option in case Plouffe was a fluke. Carroll slides back into the utility position he's best suited for and suddenly you've got a very nice bullpen coupled with a decent rotation and a solid lineup...why not ride that team, see how they do with a healthy Justin Morneau in the middle of the lineup (and hopefully after a full healthy year, no longer bailing out on pitches from LHers). If it doesn't work, you can look at dealing him at the deadline, but that's a team you can sell to the public as worth watching.

      The rotation still wouldn't be top-end, but there'd be 4 pitchers who would qualify as being reasonable #2-#3 starters. And a massive improvement over last season. Offensive drop-off is likely in CF and LF (Willingham will likely regress a little due to age), but there's potential improvement (overall) for RF, 3B and 1B. Unlikely the offense at SS & 2B can get much worse! So why couldn't the offense be better?

      No need to rush Arcia at that point. Progress in 2013 is a good idea to set up 2014, from a marketing standpoint...and from a team standpoint. Isn't it better to stagger out your rookie development a little if you can?
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