Justin Morneau Rumors
For the fourth straight year, Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony sat down with Jesse Lund of SB Nation's Twinkie Town to discuss the state of affairs with his team. Antony and Lund discussed the Twins' offseason at length, ranging from the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere to the Twins' pursuit of starting pitching. Here's a look at some of the highlights, but bear in mind that entire piece is well worth your time...
- The Twins never intended to trade both Revere and Span, but the Phillies' offer of Trevor May and Vance Worley was too strong not to pull the trigger. Antony identifies May as someone who could get a September call-up in 2013 if he enjoys a strong season.
- The Twins had conversations with both Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano, but were unable to agree to terms with either one. In particular, the Twins sought a club option for Baker, who wanted strictly a one-year deal. Antony said they didn't want 2013 to "be a donation" to Baker in the event that he wasn't healthy and effective for most of the season. That decision looks wise, with Baker on the 60-day disabled list for the Cubs.
- Mike Pelfrey identified the Twins as a team he wanted to pitch for and was aggressive in working out a deal, according to Antony. The Twins did quite a bit of homework on Pelfrey's recovery from Tommy John surgery in order to ascertain that the right-hander would indeed be ready for Opening Day, as he promised.
- The Twins made several "competitive offers" to free agent starting pitchers, in some cases making better offers than the ones those pitchers ultimately took. The Twins had conversations with nearly every free agent starting pitcher and spoke with around 15 agents for pitchers at the Winter Meetings in December.
- Following the Span trade, most teams didn't believe that the team would also trade Revere. Antony says four teams were in the mix for Revere, but the Phillies were the most aggressive and ultimately landed him with the aforementioned offer.
- The Twins were willing to do a one-for-one swap of Span and Alex Meyer because they believe Meyer is a legitimate front-of-the-rotation candidate who can be a "dominant" strikeout pitcher.
- The decision to bring Aaron Hicks north as the team's Opening Day center fielder was a result of Hicks' strong play in Spring Training and his poise off the field. The Twins' front office was never overly concerned with delaying Hicks' free agency by a season: "If he's that good of a player we're going to do what we can to sign him long term and none of that's going to matter."
- Antony, GM Terry Ryan and the rest of the front office prefer to gradually expose their top prospects to the Major Leagues so as not to field a team of all rookies. Additionally, that line of thinking prevents mass arbitration and free agency issues: "If you can bring a couple guys, a couple rookies in each year, it helps infuse that and it helps to spread it out so that not everybody becomes arbitration eligible at the same time or free agents at the same time, all that stuff."
- The Twins "admire" the Royals' bullpen of power arms and would like to build a similar bullpen. The team prioritized power arms in the 2012 Draft, selecting a number of hard-throwing college relievers.
- Antony offered a definitive "No," when asked if the team had interest in Aaron Harang prior to his trade to the Mariners. The Twins feel they have a number of similar arms in the organization already.
- There's been no contact between the Twins and Jim Thome for "a couple of months," and the two were never on the same page. Minnesota had interest in Thome, but they were far apart in discussions.
- "It would be great if he could be a Twin for life," Antony said of Justin Morneau. "He's a guy who's meant a lot for this organization and we'd love it if he were to play his entire career here, but you just don't know how things are going to work out in the end."
- Antony feels that too much has been made of the decision not to extend Ron Gardenhire prior to this season. Many have speculated that Gardenhire is on the hot seat following a pair of 90-loss seasons, but Antony said it was intended to be an organization-wide message that they're looking to get better from top to bottom. He adds that he hopes Gardenhire is the Twins' manager for years to come, and that in three years people are surprised there was even a debate.
Here's the latest from around the AL Central...
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski admitted to reporters (including Lynn Henning of the Detroit News) that teams had been calling him about the Tigers' starting pitching depth. The Rangers reportedly asked about Rick Porcello earlier this week and several teams have shown interest in the right-hander throughout the offseason.
- Dombrowski and Jim Leyland revealed no new details about the Tigers' closer situation other than saying that rookie Bruce Rondon is still very much a candidate for the job despite struggling in four Spring Training outings.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn discussed Chris Sale's extension with reporters (including MLB.com's Scott Merkin) and likes that the team was able to lock up a potential ace at what could end up being a bargain price. "Obviously this past offseason was a pretty robust one in terms of where the compensation was going. So being able to lock something down before there was further escalation in Chris' market had a lot of appeal to us," Hahn said.
- Scott Kazmir can opt out of his minor league deal with the Indians if he isn't on their Major League roster by April 2, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (via Twitter). Daisuke Matsuzaka, another Tribe minor league signing, also has an opt-out date "about the same time."
- Unless Justin Morneau improves on his 2012 numbers, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities feels the Twins will struggle to get "anything significant" for the slugger in a possible trade, and could have to settle for a trade package similar to what they received for Francisco Liriano last summer. Morneau hit .267/.333/.440 with 19 home runs in 570 PA in 2012 and is entering his last season under contract with Minnesota. Mackey also discusses the Twins payroll, various roster decisions and other topics during this chat with fans.
On this day in 2007, the Twins signed Liam Hendriks as an amateur free agent out of Australia. Hendriks, 24, has struggled in the Majors to date but owns a solid minor league track record. He has twice cracked Baseball America's list of Top 10 Twins prospects and boasts a 2.95 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 155 2/3 Triple-A innings. He'll fight for a rotation spot with the Twins this Spring. Here are some links pertaining to baseball's two Central divisions...
- New Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter told ESPN's Jayson Stark that his comments about the Angels and owner Arte Moreno following the Josh Hamilton signing were a "joke that went bad." At the time, Hunter tweeted that Moreno must have had "some money under a mattress," as he'd been told the team couldn't afford him. Hunter praised the Angels' organization and said he's enjoying his time with the Tigers so far.
- The Indians could look to trade outfielder Ezequiel Carrera near the end of Spring Training, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Carrera is out of options, and the Tribe has no doubt that they would lose the 25-year-old if they placed him on waivers in an attempt to send him to Triple-A.
- Former AL MVP Justin Morneau couldn't have picked a better time to get healthy, writes Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. The 31-year-old Twins slugger is set to hit free agency following the season and could find himself a midseason trade candidate, extension candidate, or the recipient of a qualifying offer with a strong, healthy season.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports wonders if Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras could be the next 20-year-old to take the Majors by storm. Taveras, however, doesn't have a clear path to the Majors given the presence of Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran.
Earlier this week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports speculated that the Rockies could trade a catcher in order to bolster their pitching staff and of the team's three backstops, Ramon Hernandez would be the most likely to go. The 36-year-old, who is earning $3.2MM this season on the backend of his two-year deal, has learned not to be bothered by trade talk, writes MLB.com's Thomas Harding. "I remember when I was with the Reds, it was the same thing..The last few days before the deadline, the Giants' manager told me, 'You're leaving with us. You're going back to San Francisco.' Then later on I was told I wasn't going anywhere until the end, right at the deadline. Then the Reds put me on waivers, somebody claimed me, they pulled me back out, and I didn't go anywhere." Here's more from around baseball..
- Twins star Justin Morneau downplayed comments he made earlier this week in which he said that it would be "very cool" to play for the Blue Jays since he grew up in Canada, writes Phil Miller of the Star-Tribune. While he didn't disown the remark but he did restate his desire to win in Minnesota.
- Pitcher Kyle McClellan wants to be more than just insurance for the Rangers this season, writes Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest.com. The right-hander signed a minor league deal with Texas this winter and can opt out of his deal on March 22nd if he does not make the big league roster. The Rangers could potentially use McClellan as a starter or place him in the bullpen.
- John Maine is looking to get back on track with the Marlins in 2013 and the former Mets hurler says that he is throwing without pain for the first time since 2012, writes Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.
Justin Morneau, who has spent his entire ten-year career with the Twins, told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he’ll understand if he’s no longer part of the organization’s long-term plans. But as Morneau enters the final year of his contract, he’s prepared to talk if general manager Terry Ryan wants to discuss an extension during the season.
“I’m not against it,” he told Morosi. “It’s not something I’d like to do, unless it starts close and seems realistic from beginning. You don’t want to drag negotiations out for weeks in the middle of the year and become a distraction.”
Morneau, 32 in May, will earn $14MM in 2013 before hitting free agency. He hit 19 home runs and posted a .267/.333/.440 batting line in 2012 after battling concussion-related issues and undergoing various surgeries. The New Westminster, British Columbia native says his preference is to stay with the Twins and win in Minnesota. Yet he acknowledged that he’s intrigued by the possibility of playing for the team he rooted for as a kid: the Blue Jays.
"That was my favorite team growing up, so that would be very cool,” he said.
Morneau signed a six-year, $80MM deal before the 2008 season. However, he sustained a concussion in July of 2010 and missed the remainder of the 2010 season and much of the 2011 season. The left-handed hitting SFX client won the 2006 AL MVP.
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is entering the final year of his contract with the Twins but the former MVP told reporters that he won't discuss a new deal with the club once the season starts, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com (on Twitter). Morneau also says that he hasn't been approached by the front office about an extension yet and his reps won't raise the issue with the Twins this fall (Twitter link).
From Morneau's tone, it sounds as though he has every intention of testing the open market after the season. The slugger will earn $14MM this season in the home stretch of his of his six-year, $84MM contract. He also figures to be a trade candidate given his status and the Twins were reportedly gauging interest in him during the winter meetings.
While Morneau may be bound for free agency, he has made it known in the past that he is happy playing in Minnesota. At the same time, winning is important to the 31-year-old.
"I want to win, obviously, so that's the important thing," said Morneau, according to Phil Miller of the Star-Tribune. "If it looks like there's a chance we're going to win, I'd love to stay here. I've been here my whole career, and this is where I hope to be in the future...But sometimes those decisions aren't yours."
It has been six weeks since the Red Sox and Mike Napoli agreed to terms on a three-year, $39MM contract. The holdup in finalizing the deal is concern with one of Napoli's hips and the team's desire to write protective language into the contract. Recently, we learned the Red Sox are continuing negotiations with Napoli, but would like to shorten the deal to just one year and have been in contact with the Nationals about Mike Morse. A major league source told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe this about Napoli's hip, "It’s one of those things where it could go anytime or five years from now. Nobody really knows, which is why the Red Sox want strong language after putting $40 million on the table for him.” Cafardo believes it's starting to make sense for the Red Sox to trade for Justin Morneau or to make Daniel Nava a first baseman/left fielder. More from Cafardo:
- That Kyle Lohse is still available at this late date is somewhat of a stunner to Cafardo. Lohse's market has been stunted with him being tied to draft pick compensation and that no one seems willing to go beyond two years, although several teams needs starting pitching and his stuff translates to both leagues.
- Draft pick compensation has also shrunk the market for Michael Bourn. Another factor, according to a NL GM, has been the Twins trading both Denard Span and Ben Revere and the Braves signing B.J. Upton.
- Cafardo thought it was strange for Justin Upton to reject his trade to Seattle since it's one of the nicest cities in the country and the fences at Safeco Field have been moved in.
- Cubs President Theo Epstein has come to realize Alfonso Soriano is an excellent clubhouse presence because of his willingness to help younger players. With that and his excellent 2012 season, Epstein wants a player of note in any deal where the Cubs eat a majority of the $36MM left on Soriano's contract.
- Discussions to include Garrett Jones in the Joel Hanrahan trade never progressed very far because "the Pirates really valued Jones highly," a major league source told Cafardo.
- One NL GM told Cafardo Roy Oswalt may still want to pitch, but on his terms and perhaps for only a half a season. Many teams have given up trying to persuade the 35-year-old to pitch, feeling the vibe is that he just doesn’t want it bad enough. Cafardo also notes Oswalt suffered a forearm strain at the end of his time with the Rangers last season.
- Bobby Valentine has turned down some opportunities to serve as an advisor for teams. Valentine has instead decided to focus on expanding his restaurant business, growing his film company, and working for NBC Sports since being fired as manager of the Red Sox.
Here's the latest news and headlines from around the league...
- The Twins won't trade Justin Morneau this offseason, but they could look to move him before the July deadline, writes MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. It's not certain what the Twins would get in return for him, however, as he is in the last year of a six-year, $80MM deal and has had trouble staying healthy in recent years.
- Former Giants closer Brian Wilson's rehabilitation efforts have him closer to throwing off a mound as the former All-Star remains silent about talks with teams regarding his next contract, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). San Francisco remains interested in bringing the veteran reliever back for 2013, but only if Wilson is willing to accept a low base salary with performance-based incentives.
- Look for the Giants to sign second baseman Kensuke Tanaka of the Nippon Ham Fighters to a minor league deal with an invitation to MLB Spring Training, says John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). Tanaka, 31, posted a .300/.350/.363 slash line this past season for Nippon and is a former teammate of Yu Darvish.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Twins appear to be calling around to gauge trade interest in former MVP Justin Morneau, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com (via Twitter). Kubatko says the Orioles are one of the clubs that has been contacted by Minnesota about Morneau, with the Twins seeking young pitching.
The Twins may simply be getting a sense of what sort of return they could expect for Morneau, rather than actively shopping him. GM Terry Ryan indicated toward the end of the 2012 season that he envisioned Morneau as part of the '13 Twins, calling him "one of the most important people in this organization."
Here's the latest on the Twins, courtesy of ESPN 1500's Darren Wolfson...
- "No. Obviously I love playing here. I love the city. I love the people. Hopefully it doesn't become a distraction," said Justin Morneau when asked if the team has approached his agent about an extension. The slugger can become a free agent next offseason, and he said he hopes to remain with the Twins through 2013.
- The Twins have touched base with approximately 20 free agent pitchers so far, though a source downplayed their interest in a reunion with Francisco Liriano.
- "Look for an active (Winter Meetings)," said one of Wolfson's sources. There's a belief Denard Span could be traded.
- Carl Pavano's representatives will meet with the Twins during the Winter Meetings in Nashville next week. The right-hander's shoulder was cleared by doctors recently.
- The Twins are looking for a third baseman. They could shift Trevor Plouffe to the outfield or find a left-handed hitting platoon partner.