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Should there be a Morneau contract controversy?

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When Twins position players reported to camp at the end of last week, Justin Morneau was one of the first people that the media hunted down. There was good reason to do this since he is in the last year of his contract with the club and his future is unclear at this point.

According to Morneau, there haven't been any discussions about an extension between his agent and the club. This means that he is anticipating playing out the rest of his contract and testing the free agent market at season's end.

As part of Morneau's interview, he talked about the Twins having plenty of prospects working their way to the major leagues. This is great for the club but it isn't so great for a 31-year old former MVP. After ten years in the big leagues and some recent injury concerns, the future is not certain at this point.
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Any player that is getting closer to the end of their career is going to want to find a way to win. Morneau and his agent are probably looking at the Twins current rebuilding job and wondering if the Canadian slugger is part of the equation. There could be younger, cheaper options to take his spot on the roster.

During last offseason, the Twins saw Joe Nathan leave in free agency to head to Texas. The opportunity to be on a contending team was too much for Nathan to ignore. If the same situation plays out this coming offseason, it could mean that Morneau will find himself in a different uniform by next year.

With one year left on his deal and free agency loom, there is plenty of uncertainty for 2013. Will the Twins trade Morneau before the deadline? Is he fully healthy after a slough of injuries in the last handful of years? And should there be a Morneau contract controversy?

A couple of seasons ago, the Twins had another former MVP getting close to free agency. The team needed to hash out a new contract with Joe Mauer before the start of the year. He had just come off his best season where he put together a historically good offensive campaign for a catcher. It seemed like the time was right for a deal.

The Twins front office hasn't been in a position to offer Morneau a contract because his health has been so much of a concern. It would have looked silly to extend a deal when the team wasn't sure if he would be able to play first base or get back to his old ways at the plate.

Morneau proved his ability to stay healthy last season. This offseason he was able to complete his full workout routine for the first time in years. These are all good signs but it still doesn't mean that the Twins are going to be jumping to sign him to a long-term extension.

A motivated and healthy Morneau could be fun to watch. He is working towards an important contract in his career and that could mean some big numbers on the field. If he wants teams to spend some money on him next offseason, it will be crucial for him to show he can get back to his old mashing ways.

It was made clear by Morneau that he won't discuss a new contract once the season starts because he doesn't want the deal to be a distraction. He seems content to play out the next few months and see what the future will bring.

Morneau has done some great things for the Twin Cities community while he has been a member of the Twins. Those charitable works might be heading to a different market at some point this year. This could leave Twins fans with only a few more opportunities to see Morneau cracking home runs out near the flagpole.

Enjoy the last few months of Morneau because there doesn't seem to be a contract controversy brewing anytime soon...

Comments

  1. johnnydakota's Avatar
    Just remember the state of Minnesota coughed up 350 million to feed the greed of ownership , so they could afford to keep there own free agents....Adios Justin , thank you for your time as a twin .
  2. beckmt's Avatar
    It is sounding like he does not want to be here, unless the Twins grant him a large contract now. Too bad, that is not going to happen, but if Parmalee fails, we may wish they had. Morneau sees a rebuild until about 2015, he wants to be paid and play for a winner. Maybe we need to trade him at the end of spring training if both Parmalee and Arcia have good springs. Hate to see him go.
  3. Rosterman's Avatar
    The Twins mindset...they want him at x-dollars a year. We see how well that worked out with Baker, Nathan and Cuddyer. I would deep-six him during spring training. If he shines elsewhere, then he deserves a big contract in the world of free agency. If he only plays halfway decent, then the Twins might be able to make a competitive offer and bring him back. But jsut keep the thoughts of Baker, Nathan and Cuddyer in the back of your mind. I think you can get more for him during the spring than at trade deadline, at least then it is the other team's ball to sign him longer or not, or offer him the $13+ million plus and see if he rejects it.
  4. nicksaviking's Avatar
    A very similar situation occued for this team just over 20 years ago. Kent Hrbek was the beloved Twins 1B but they had promising prospect Paul Sorrento lurking. Hrbek was also 31 and Sorrento was putting up some exciting power numbers in the minors. The Twins chose to move Sorrento instead of Hrbek.

    It didn't work out well for the Twins as Hrbek had difficulties staying healthy and retired early but that was largely due to his poor conditioning. (I forget, did you write that great article a month or so back about Hrbek Cody?) If Morneau looks healthy and productive perhaps history repeats itself; the Twins haven't been shy about trading last decades 1st round picks this off season.

    I haven't heard the Hrbek/Sorrento parallel drawn yet but I'm sure it will come up often as the trade deadline approaches.
  5. Rosterman's Avatar
    Sorrento was that 26th man. They couldn't option him out and he couldn't play the outfield. Not that he had staggering numbers, but considering that Herbie went down and the Twins were 1st baseman less. At least Parmelee can lay the outfield. And remember, next year and longterm, the Twins have Doumit as back-up, and an also play Mauer there, although who DHs or catches is the question (again, Butera catching is not the answer). I still feel, like the Twins should've done with Koskie, and maybe Cuddyer, is sign Morneau to a contract as the potential DH who can also play a position. But like the Twins braintrust, I would not give him more than $18-20 as a 2-year/option year contact right now, and I'[m sure Morneau is thinking he can get $10-12 for multi-years if he proves dynamite this season.
  6. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
    Trading Morneau now is indefensible. We already have issues/questions at every other infield position except catcher. We have one outfielder we are all confident in.
    Morneau showed signs of excellence at times last year. This is the year we will find out if he got his groove back. To trade him now could only be seen as a salary dump. If we don't have confidence in him why would any other team? He would bring next to nothing in a trade.
    Morneau says he doesn't know what the future holds. None of us do. I didn't read anything he said to mean 'I want out of here'.
    Maybe he gets traded at the deadline, I certainly don't know what's going to happen. But to trade him now makes no sense at all.
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