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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. ericchri's Avatar
      ericchri -
      In a sense, I think the Revere trade makes trading Morneau now less likely. I'm still a little shocked we got both a Major League starter and a prospect for him. But we have one of our starting pitchers now, and money to get a couple more, meaning if everything (EVERYTHING) breaks right they can contend next year, and part of that is a quality season by Morneau.

      My perspective here is that they still want to try and compete next year. If we trade Morneau, we now need to move Parmelee to first and then we probably need a FA OF or we're turning over RF to Arcia or Hicks (who may be great someday, but most reports say they're probably not ready yet). Who do you think is most likely to have an above average hitting season next year, Justin Morneau, a Rick Ankiel type, or Oswaldo Arcia? Cause we need one of those to happen to realistically be competitive next season.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Wait to trade Morneau until we see if Parmalee works out. That would be trading deadline next year.
    1. WilliesWorld24's Avatar
      WilliesWorld24 -
      To the question at hand, the trade market for Morneau (and Mauer) should be explored and exploited if possible. More high ceiling MiLB power arms, multiple-tool SS, and C in the mix. If the market is not ripe, see if #33 would sign a reasonable extension. He can always be traded in the future, but a reasonable extension improves his marketability. As an aside, the Twins conservative approach to extensions is a flaw that needs to be fixed. Don't extend young marginal talent (e.g. Blackburn) and do not wait on future stars - Mauer should have had the Longoria treatment right after call-up. Finally, do not understand the fascination with Parmalee. He is replacement value at best. Subpar fielder at any position. Unremarkable hitter. I am fine giving him a shot, but he is not a solution to any Twins problem. And move Willingham if Twins get quality in return. Best case scenario in 2013 is 75 wins, which is not going to move the fans to the stands. However, hope sells.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      I don't get the logic. Trading Revere actually makes trading Morneau less likely. One fewer outfielder means Parmelee will be needed in right field in 2013.

      Not that a Morneau trade at this point is all that likely, anyway. Right now, his value is marginal, considering his contract. If he puts up great numbers in the first half of 2013 and we're out of it at the break, then, yeah. His value would be pretty huge at that point, because any team interested in him would recoup his salary in the playoffs. Teams don't like to spend that kind of money unless they know they have a good chance of winning it all.

      I suppose you might say a pure salary dump makes some sense. But not if you listen to Ryan. He said he doesn't want to sign a big contract pitcher like Grienke, who's pretty much the only pitcher the Twins can't afford with their payroll. Ryan statement means he's not going to dump salary more salary. This post is a nonstarter.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      You move Morneau now because you've got to get Mauer out from behind the plate. I'm thinking Parmalee at 1st and Mauer in RF, because Mauer has a bazooka arm and better foot speed.
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