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Justin Morneau Rumors
In an open letter published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, new Pirates first baseman Justin Morneau reflects on his time in Minnesota and thanks the club's fans. "I am sorry that during my time here we weren't able to achieve our ultimate goal of winning the World Series, but I will forever carry many wonderful memories of my time here," Morneau wrote. Here's more on the trade that sent the slugger to Pittsburgh:
- La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune weighs in on the trade, noting that the deal appears like a sell low moment for Minnesota since the player to be named later likely won't be a top notch talent. Morneau's ten-and-five rights are set to kick in next season and one person close to the deal told Neal that might have played a role in the deal since it would have been tougher to deal him if he played out the season and wound up re-signing.
- Newly acquired outfielder Alex Presley will get plenty of opportunities to lead off and play center field for the Twins this September, manager Ron Gardenhire tells Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com (Twitter link). In a video tweeted by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, GM Terry Ryan calls Presley a "catalyst-type guy."
- In another video clip tweeted by Berardino, Ryan says the trade "might be a good move" for Justin Morneau, noting that the Pirates are likely to make the playoffs.
- Ryan adds that neither the Twins nor Morneau made an attempt at putting together a last-minute extension before the trade, according to Berardino in another tweet.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington said that he feels the trade "allows [Pittsburgh] an opportunity to play deep into October," according to the Pirates Twitter feed.
Earlier today, the Orioles found their new bat in the Mariners' Mike Morse after a potential deal for the Twins' Josh Willingham fizzled. The Twins reportedly asked for top prospect Eduardo Rodriguez in exchange for the outfielder, which was too rich for Baltimore's blood. Here's more on the Twins and other notes out of the AL Central..
- A Twins source tells Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter) that the club still isn't close on any deal and that includes Justin Morneau. The Twins may have asked for a lot to part with Willingham, but they have been said to be more eager to deal Morneau, who is a pending free agent. It was also reported earlier this week that the PIrates had interest in the 2006 AL MVP along with other clubs.
- Willingham is happy that the two-day window passed without a trade being reached, writes MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. “I’m comfortable here so I’d like to stay here,” Willingham said. “The bottom line is I didn’t have any control so I didn’t worry myself with it.” The 34-year-old is under contract with the Twins through 2014 and he's set to earn $7MM in his walk year.
- Jake Peavy, who is facing the White Sox tonight for the first time since the Boston deal, says that he doesn't expect his former club to face a lengthy rebuilding process, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com.
Last night, we learned that a mystery team claimed Josh Willingham off waivers and hours later it was revealed that the Orioles were the club making the claim. Now, the Orioles and Twins have until tomorrow afternoon to hammer out a trade. Here's the latest out of Baltimore..
- In addition to their claim of Josh Willingham last night, the Orioles have also expressed interest in Jason Kubel, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network (via Twitter). Kubel was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. After an offensively strong 2012, Kubel has a disappointing .220/.288/.324 line in 267 plate appearances.
- One industry source told Dan Connolly and Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun that it appears the Twins are more motivated to trade Justin Morneau than Willingham. However, Willingham, a right-handed hitter, looks like the better fit for the Orioles.
- The Orioles have made several claims this month on players, but have not ended up with a player, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. That means the O's either couldn’t agree on a trade or they were outbid by a team with a lesser record.
- Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders if it's a good idea for the O's to deal for Willingham since it would likely chip away at their farm system.
4:45pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that multiple teams are inquiring on Morneau. He notes that the Orioles are still seeking a DH, though he stops short of stating that Baltimore is interested in Morneau, specifically.
4:41pm: Apparently not content to stand pat after acquiring Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the Mets earlier today, Pirates GM Neal Huntington is now eyeing Twins first baseman Justin Morneau once again, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He adds that the Yankees, another team once linked to Morneau, aren't currently pursuing the Canadian slugger.
The Bucs were said to have interest in Morneau prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but a dreadful slump from the 2006 AL MVP coupled with a hefty amount of money remaining on his $14MM salary deterred interested parties from striking a deal. Now, Morneau is owed roughly $2.6MM through season's end and has seen his bat come back to life in August, hitting .270/.318/.550 with seven homers and seven doubles on the month.
Heyman also adds that there are indications that the Twins would include some cash in a potential trade to improve the return. The Pirates showed a willingness to deal respectable prospects in today's Byrd/Buck trade, dealing Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later to the Mets. Herrera ranked as the team's No. 11 prospect per MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo on his midseason Top 20, and Mayo also ranked him as the ninth-best second base prospect in all of baseball.
With Starling Marte currently on the disabled list, the Pirates could use both Byrd and Garrett Jones in the outfield to accommodate Morneau at first base, Heyman points out. As Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted earlier today, it will be at least two weeks before Marte can even swing a bat, so that arrangement could work out for several weeks.
In a second tweet, Sanserino adds that the Pirates have been skeptical that the Twins would actually part with Morneau, but they are indeed interested if the price is right. Because Morneau has already cleared waivers, Morneau is free to be traded to any team, but he must be on a new team prior to Sept. 1 to be eligible for postseason play.
Happy birthday to Hall-of-Famer Paul Molitor, who turns 57 years old today. Though Molitor only spent the final three of his 21 seasons with an AL Central team, the St. Paul native has been closely tied to the Twins franchise and currently serves as a special assistant within the organization. Here's the latest from around the division…
- The Twins don't have any trade talks percolating about Justin Morneau right now, Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan tells Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I can put that out there,” Ryan said. “I don’t see [a trade], but there is always a possibility." Morneau has cleared waivers and has revived his trade value after hitting .303/.326/.618 in 92 PA in August. The former AL MVP has drawn varying levels of interest from the Yankees and Orioles in recent days.
- Ryan added that "I don’t think you have to worry about" Glen Perkins being traded. The closer drew attention before the July 31st deadline, but it's hard to see how Minnesota could get Perkins through waivers without another club blocking the move.
- The Twins GM also covers a number of topics with Hartman, including his own future with the team. Ryan said he's still enjoying all aspects of his job, except for the Twins' poor record on the field.
- Adam Dunn thinks there is "zero chance" his White Sox teammate Paul Konerko will retire after this season, Dunn tells Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link). Konerko has hinted at retirement throughout the season, as this is the last year of his White Sox contract and the veteran has struggled with injuries and a .662 OPS in 393 PA.
- The Indians recently gathered several front office members to discuss September promotions and any possible August trades, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. "We're looking at opportunities to improve, internally, externally, whatever those might be," GM Chris Antonetti said. "I continue to like the group of guys we have, but if there is an opportunity to improve, we'll pursue it."
Congratulations to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who has been selected to join the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame. "Hoynsie" took the time to answer some questions from Bill Lucey of the blog Newspaper Alum about the 33 years he has spent covering the Indians. Hoynes discusses the transition from print to web, recounts several stories about players and offers his take on instant replay. Lucey's piece is an excellent look at the life of a beat writer and is a fantastic read start to finish. Here's more out of the AL Central…
- Twins first baseman Justin Morneau hasn't heard anything regarding a potential trade and doesn't expect to be moved, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. One source told Morosi that money is still the biggest factor dissuading teams from pursuing Morneau.
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that Twins VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff is headed on a scouting trip to Japan in the next few weeks. Wolfson believes Radcliff will watch right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who has a 1.20 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 20 starts for the Rakuten Golden Eagles this season.
- Jose Iglesias and Nick Castellanos should help to minimize the Tigers' payroll issues in the future, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com. Detroit is locked in to big salaries for Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder and Anibal Sanchez for the next several years, and they'll face decisions on Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson and Doug Fister by the end of the 2015 season. Iott feels that Castellanos will open the 2014 season as the Tigers' starting left fielder.
We'll round out the evening with some links from around baseball:
- With a big night at the plate putting an exclamation point on his torrid run over August, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is drawing increased attention on the trade market, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson reports on Twitter. According to a source, the resurgent Yankees are "back in" on Morneau, which could also increase the pressure on the Orioles to make a move on the veteran slugger. The Yanks are now just one game back of Baltimore, though both clubs have significant ground to gain in both the AL East and Wild Card hunt.
- Recently-released pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka expects to link up with a new team shortly with the hopes of returning to the big leagues, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. In a series of tweets, Miller quotes Indians GM Chris Antonetti: "We didn't have an immediate opportunity. Dice-K was throwing well in Triple-A and thought he may have a better opportunity."
- One team that will not be in on Matsuzaka is the Brewers, reports Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. GM Doug Melvin did say that Dice-K's agent, Scott Boras, had reached out to Milwaukee. "I told Boras I didn't have a spot for him," said Melvin. "We already have six starters for September."
- Looking ahead at the first base position for the Red Sox in 2014, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says he expects the club to "stay in-house" rather than chasing a new player such as Jose Dariel Abreu. Cafardo opines that the club is most likely to shift Will Middlebrooks to first or employ a platoon of Daniel Nava and Mike Carp. Cafardo finds it less likely that Mike Napoli will be re-signed, but says a big September could lead the club in that direction.
- Mike Dee, the new president and CEO of the Padres, says that the club is poised to "invest more in the team moving forward," reports MLB.com's AJ Cassavell. Emphasizing that dealing with the team's less-than-perfect TV situation will be "a priority," Dee said that the baseball operations focus will be "to draft well and to develop [the team's] own talent." For his part, GM Josh Byrnes explained that more money did not just mean more big league spending: "Payroll is certainly part of it. But it's also investment spending, whether it's player development, medical or the international side; anything that we can do to give ourselves a better chance to produce talent."
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez currently faces a 211-game suspension stemming from his role in the Biogenesis scandal, but his suspension might have been far shorter, perhaps as few as 50 games, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. "At different points, it could have been way, way less than where it is now," a source tells Rosenthal. Rodriguez has appealed his suspension. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The Mets have decided Travis d'Arnaud's promotion won't be temporary, Rosenthal tweets. The Mets promoted d'Arnaud after starting catcher John Buck went on paternity leave. Now, Rosenthal writes, the Mets plan to keep d'Arnaud on their roster and give him "significant playing time." That would suggest that Buck is likely to play much less. D'Arnaud, 24, has hit .286/.420/.514 across three minor-league levels in 2013 after having missed much of the season with a foot injury.
- The Rangers are looking for a pitcher to start on Tuesday, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes. Texas has a need in its rotation after Alexi Ogando received an anti-inflammatory injection on Saturday. The Rangers will have Matt Garza pitch on Monday, a day earlier than expected. Josh Lindblom, who has made five starts for the Rangers this year, started Sunday night for Triple-A Round Rock, so he isn't a candidate to pitch Tuesday. The Rangers could promote the recently-acquired Travis Blackley, but Fraley raises the possibility that they could deal for a starter like Dan Haren or Erik Bedard, both of whom have passed through waivers.
- The Indians are not interested in former Phillies outfielder Delmon Young, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets. Hoynes also notes that the Indians have put in waiver claims on "several players," although they have not been able to trade for any.
- The Twins aren't likely to trade Justin Morneau to the Red Sox, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Morneau cleared waivers on Wednesday, and Sox first baseman Mike Napoli is currently nursing a sore foot. It's not yet clear that Napoli's injury is severe, however, and it's questionable whether Morneau would be an upgrade over options like Daniel Nava and Mike Carp.
2:00 PM: Manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, the Orioles are also considering internal options naming Wilson Betemit (on a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie) as a possibility. "You want to make sure the answer's not in your own backyard, something you're already paying for," Showalter said. "We don't have to trade Bowie anybody for Betemit, so we want to make sure with Wilson."
8:56 AM: The Orioles continue to look for a DH-type addition to their lineup and plan to make multiple waiver claims in order to facilitate a deal, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). However, the club's interest in Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is lukewarm.
The O's were linked to Morneau for several weeks leading up to the July 31st non-waiver deadline but the veteran wound up staying put with his sizable salary serving as a roadblock to a possible deal. The Twins got Morneau through waivers last week, but it doesn't look like Baltimore will renew their interest in the 32-year-old, who is owed roughly $3.5MM between now and the end of the season.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau has cleared waivers, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). The veteran can now be traded to any club after clearing the 47-hour revocable waiver period.
The 2006 American League MVP was placed on waivers on Monday, and his waiver period expired today at noon CT. The 32-year-old has dealt with a litany of injuries in recent years which have hurt his production tremendously. Morneau boasted a slash line of .298/.372/.528 from 2006-10 but has hit just .257/.317/.410 over the past three seasons.
Morneau is earning $14MM in the final season of a six-year, $80MM contract, meaning that roughly $3.5MM is still owed to him for the remainder of the deal. The Pirates, Orioles, and Rays all had interest in Morneau before the July 31st deadline, but a rough July hurt his trade value. He's heated up recently though, hitting .268/.293/.643 with six homers and three doubles in August entering today's game against Cleveland.
A scout recently told Danny Knobler of CBS Sports that Morneau looks like a different player this month: "He's swinging the bat much better than he was," the scout said. "His body looks more lively, too." Morneau becomes the sixth player to have reportedly cleared waivers this month.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.