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  • Is The Window Open For Another Twins Trade?

    The Minnesota Twins’ offseason has been interesting to say the least.

    With the team trading away not one but two of their major league ready center fielders, the writing on the wall at 1 Twins Way appears to read that the focus is on the future. Outwardly, the Twins are sending the message that they are doing what they can to build a competitive team in 2013 but also taking measures to fortify the club for the coming years. Behind closed doors however, the tone may be different as the reality is that the organization recognizes the window for success begins at least one year down the road.

    And this may be the reason why Justin Morneau could be traded yet this offseason.

    During the winter meetings, the Twins were reported to have been “gauging interest” from other teams on what they would give for Morneau. Obviously nothing materialized at the time and, furthermore, the Twins may have simply been testing the waters rather than outright shopping their first baseman. That said, as the team made abundantly clear after last season, no one is untradeable.

    The conditions were not favorable at the time of baseball’s annual agent orgy, at least not for the first base market. Had someone like the Orioles offered up a top flight arm, Morneau may already be eating Maryland crab cakes. Instead, teams were still addressing other needs. Targeting vital up-the-middle position players. Trying to land top-of-the-rotation arms. The game’s top free agents had yet to sign. The dominoes were still mostly intact.

    That changed yesterday when Angels signed outfielder Josh Hamilton out from under the Texas Rangers’ nose. Not only did the Rangers lose a talented player to their division rival, they also became fairly exposed from the left-side of the plate.

    Because of that, it may not be long before the Rangers call on Morneau and ask: “How much?”

    Aside from losing Hamilton’s production from the left side, they also have lost their designated hitter in Young. Potentially desperate to address those needs, Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels may be inquiring on Morneau soon. With the Angels launching themselves into the catbird seat of the AL West and the surprising and youthful Oakland A’s extremely competitive as well, Daniels will surely need to counteract what his rivals have done this winter.

    From the Rangers’ perspective, targeting Morneau makes plenty of sense. In spite of witnessing a decline in his home run totals in recent years, a new venue could help rejuvenate the Canadian slugger. The Ballpark at Arlington is one of the most favorable environments for left-handed hitters to play. According to StatCorner.com’s Park Factors, Texas’s stadium has a home run factor of 117 (anything over 100 favors hitters). By comparison, Target Field’s confines thwart that type of power production to the tune of 78. In theory, Morneau’s numbers would be enhanced significantly with the Rangers.

    Additionally, with one year left on his contract, it would be a relatively risk-free (minus the concussion, of course) deal for Texas.

    Under most circumstances, the idea of asking a team to absorb $14M for a 31-year-old with injury issues may be a tall task, however, Texas is one of a few teams who seem able to assume the risk. The Rangers, who have lost Hamilton’s previous contract ($15.25M), Mike Napoli’s ($9.4M) and a portion of Michael Young’s ($5.5M of his total $16M owed), have payroll space to add Morneau’s contract if they so choose. As it stands, they have roughly $50M committed to players (pre-arbitration contracts, of course) after reached $120M in 2012. After all, in addition to whatever revenue they generate for being one of the best attended teams in the American League (2 of 14), they also have approximately $80 million a year coming in from their TV deal with Fox Sports Southwest.

    On the other hand, by most measures, the Rangers are a smart team. Daniels has been one of the most impressive general managers in the game – building his organization from the ground up, emphasizing scouting, bringing in elite international talent and targeting quality free agents. After making several moves to acquire players like Cliff Lee and Ryan Dempster in recent years, he has also lost some notable prospect talent so it is hard to envision the Rangers sacrificing much in any deal.

    Likewise, the overall market for Morneau was lukewarm at best at the deadline last year. Even losing a star player to a division opponent may not be enough to inspire Daniels to surrender the young pitching the Twins are hoping for.

    Would Morneau make the Twins better in 2013? Yes. Would trading him upset the fan base? Of course. Is he untouchable? Obviously not. The Twins sent the message at the winter meeting that Morneau could be had for a price, not it appears that the Rangers maybe in a position where they might have to pay that.
    This article was originally published in blog: Is The Window Open For Another Twins Trade? started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 66 Comments
    1. Chris in Osaka's Avatar
      Chris in Osaka -
      Trade him and continue to lay the foundation for a competitive team in 2014. I'd try to find a taker for Willingham as well.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Another great article.

      Now that the Angels are loaded up, maybe it would make more sense to talk to Oakland. The A's might be willing to part with a couple of very good prospects if the Twins would cover some or most of Morneau's salary.

      It looks to me like the A's have some very solid starters in the minors -- A.J. Cole, Brad Peacock, Sonny Gray, and others, as well as some interesting position players. Maybe they would be willing to part with two of these for a subsidized year of Morneau?
    1. perkins7's Avatar
      perkins7 -
      Personally, I would rather see the Twins wait for trade offers for Morneau until the deadline and shop Willingham this offseason instead. Willingham's contract is much more moveable than Morneau's for a team looking to add power on the cheap, and he's under team control for the next two years as opposed to Morneau's one year. Also, the likelihood of Willingham repeating his numbers from this last season is not as high in my opinion as Morneau improving on his numbers from last season. In summary, Willingham has more value as a trade chip than Morneau and could yield much more this offseason than Morneau could.
      That being said, I would like to see the Twins hold on to Morneau until the trade deadline when a team (like the Rangers, A's, Orioles, etc...) become real desperate for a quick power fix and a potential playoff push. If Morneau's numbers improve from last year (which I'm of the opinion that they will given his improvement over the course of the season last year, particularly towards the end of the season), a team might be much more willing to give up a top-tier arm or middle infielder for him. I would personally love it if the Twins could get some type of middle infield prospect for Morneau, but what we want and what the Twins are prone to do have been two very, very different things lately...
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Before the offseason, I'd have said that they should move him just for the salary and spend it on starting pitching. Since it looks like they're not really going to target interesting free agents, then unless they get a prospect back, I'd be disappointed if they traded him.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      The Twins are not rebuilding they are just tearing down. Why trade Justin? Don't the Twins have enough money yet? Don't you want a team at all this season? What is the point in having minor leaguers if you have no major leaguers? What is the point in having more money when you can not spend what you got? Why build target field if there is nothing to watch? Pretty sad for the people of Minnesota. It's a crime against it's own fans. What a shame!
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      Joe Nathan might help make this happen.

      How about Profar for Morneau? Ok, too much. Martin Perez?
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      Another arm a year or two away from the majors would be better than keeping him and still losing 90+ games three years in a row.
    1. J-Dog Dungan's Avatar
      J-Dog Dungan -
      The problem with trading guys like Willingham and Morneau now is that we then have to put inexperienced guys into the outfield which could severely hinder our offense until they start to get used to ML pitching.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by AM. View Post
      Joe Nathan might help make this happen.

      How about Profar for Morneau? Ok, too much. Martin Perez?
      Haven't the Rangers been looking to move Elvis Andrus? 2 years of cheap control, eminently flippable.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Haven't the Rangers been looking to move Elvis Andrus? 2 years of cheap control, eminently flippable.
      Elvis Andrus gets traded for a Justin Upton type player and not a Justin Morneau type player. There should be absolutely no way that the Rangers trade Andrus to the Twins but it has been a strange offseason.

      I think in the end the Twins end up keeping Morneau until the deadline because he's not going to bring in a good prospect now and he's a very popular player. Optimistically the prospects on the Rangers that you should look at (if the Twins pay half of the salary) are Perez (if the Rangers have soured on him), Alfaro (toolsy catcher), Odor (toolsy MI), Sardinas (toolsy SS) and Buckel.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      The Twins should offer to pay a good portion of the salary in order to get a better return.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      If they are not going to even try to compete this year, they should deal him. Ideally they would pay nearly the whole salary and get a good prospect.
    1. Twins best friend's Avatar
      Twins best friend -
      I wrote this article not too long ago questioning the possibility of a Morneau to Texas trade. Yours is much more in depth though and a good read.
    1. SCBackroads's Avatar
      SCBackroads -
      You often wonder whether the worst to first year in 91 could ever be duplicated in the current free agency market without simply overpaying to everything.

      No matter what the diminished return for Morneau would be, I believe the alienation of the fan base would overshadow what good would come of it in the short term.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      It is not over paying if that is what the market pays.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      Elvis Andrus gets traded for a Justin Upton type player and not a Justin Morneau type player. There should be absolutely no way that the Rangers trade Andrus to the Twins but it has been a strange offseason.

      I think in the end the Twins end up keeping Morneau until the deadline because he's not going to bring in a good prospect now and he's a very popular player. Optimistically the prospects on the Rangers that you should look at (if the Twins pay half of the salary) are Perez (if the Rangers have soured on him), Alfaro (toolsy catcher), Odor (toolsy MI), Sardinas (toolsy SS) and Buckel.
      Agreed on your prospects, but the Rangers are reeling right now and their desperation might tempt them to make a move more beneficial to the Twins. Wouldn't Andrus net the Twins a small fortune in talent from a team desperate for a SS at the deadline, as well (and unlike the risk involved in Justin's injury history and last year on his contract, Andrus' value is virtually assured for the next year-and-a-half)?
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      There is no way that Andrus (or Profar) are in play for anything the Twins have to offer. If the Rangers are desperate then perhaps Olt is in play. Olt's a borderline top 25 prospect so it's not like he's mediocre.
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      People are speculating that the Ranger's infield will be configured (from l to r) as Beltre, Andrus, Profar, and Kinsler. It sure seems like obtaining Morneau could free up Andrus. Shortstop has been such a wasteland in Minnesota for such a long time, he sure seems like he would be a great fit, especially since he is under team control for three more years.

      So how much more would it take to get Andrus? Hopefully not Perkins or Sano, but perhaps Willingham as suggested in another thread?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      What is the point of getting Andrus if you do not sign 2 legit pitchers? Either try to win, or rebuild.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      If Andrus costs two other everyday players, how are they better now or in 2 years?
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