Saturday, February 23, 2013
Morneau as a Blue Jay?
By Jason Catania
First baseman Justin Morneau is entering the final year of his contract with the Minnesota Twins, and so the veteran will embark upon a season that could be filled with trade speculation. In fact, it's already started.
Morneau himself actually lit the fire earlier this week by saying that "it would be cool" to play for the Toronto Blue Jays, according to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com. Morneau was simply talking about the fact that he, as a native Canadian, was a big fan of the Jays, now MLB's lone Canadian club, growing up. But still, a comment like that is going to take on a life of its own, especially when Toronto could be looking for a designated hitter to complete its roster makeover from after-thought to contender in the AL East.
Since his outlier 2009 campaign, current DH Adam Lind has been in a downward spiral of production, including last year, in which he slashed just .255/.314/.414 and was actually demoted to Triple-A for more than a month. Now 31, Morneau, who was the 2006 AL MVP, has battled injuries and issues related to multiple concussions the past few seasons, but played 134 games in 2012 and finally appears healthy. He hit .267/.333/.440, and while that's not significantly better than Lind's output, Morneau still tees off against right-handers, as his 17 homers and .902 OPS against them last year shows. For a team that needs Lind's lefty bat to balance out a lineup that gets most of its power from the right side, if he falters again, Morneau could be a fix.
Morneau wants another shot to be on a winning club, as Phil Miller of the Star Tribune writes, so it seems that he would at least be open to the idea of moving on from the rebuilding Twins, if the right scenario played out.
As for Morneau's chances of re-upping with his current club, the Twins appear to prefer to let things play out, rather than exploring a contract extension at the moment, based on a couple of tweets by MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. But a trade might, indeed, make a lot of sense for a Minnesota team that has already moved Denard Span and Ben Revere this offseason. Whether Morneau could be the next -- and when and where he goes -- remain to be seen.