Justin Morneau Rumors
Twins interim general manager Terry Ryan spoke to Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (in two separate pieces) about the Twins' season, offseason plans and his own future with the team. Here are some of the highlights...
- Ryan doesn't plan to fire Ron Gardenhire and says that he wouldn't make any changes to the coaching staff without Gardenhire's approval. "I don't think either one of us should independently make that call. I wouldn't want to force-feed a coach on a manager. That never works in a clubhouse," Ryan said. Souhan notes that Ryan didn't fire former Twins manager Tom Kelly even after Kelly had presided over eight consecutive losing seasons.
- The Twins' biggest offseason need is starting pitching, though Ryan described the free agent pitching market as "a little lean." The club isn't likely to get into a bidding war over big name free agent starters, though Ryan said the team would explore all avenues to improve their pitching, including possibly re-signing Carl Pavano and Scott Baker. The Twins have a $9.5MM team option on Baker for 2013 but I would think the team would decline that option and try to re-sign Baker on a new, smaller deal.
- Ryan is satisfied with the team's payroll (slightly over $100MM in 2012) and said finances weren't to blame for the last two seasons. "This one isn’t payroll-oriented at all. This is just making good baseball decisions," Ryan said.
- Justin Morneau has been the subject of trade rumors this year but Ryan sees the former MVP as part of next year's Twins. "I think his numbers are going to return. I think he's a core guy. He's a former MVP who's what, 31? He's one of the most important people in this organization, no doubt," Ryan said.
- In regards to his future as the Twins' GM, Ryan said he would make a decision after the season, though Souhan noted that Ryan "sounds as if he is determined to keep the job, even if he won't yet admit it." Twins owner Jim Pohlad said earlier this week that he would like Ryan to remain as GM and Ryan is free to remove the 'interim' tag from his job whenever he wishes.
Justin Morneau was claimed on waivers several days ago, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). The Twins didn't work out a trade with the claiming team, so the first baseman will be staying in Minnesota. If the Twins place Morneau on waivers again, the waivers will no longer be revocable. However it seems unlikely that Morneau will be placed on waivers again since the Twins don't view him as a giveaway, according to Heyman.
Morneau earns $14MM this year -- approximately $2.8MM between now and the end of the regular season -- and the same amount in 2013. The 31-year-old has a .274/.332/.472 batting line with 17 home runs and 25 doubles in 446 plate appearances this year. This marks the first time since 2009 that Morneau has played in 100 games, an indication that Morneau's concussion issues are not preventing him from producing.
One of the largest trades in baseball history was made official on Saturday, but here's a look at what else is going on in baseball...
- The Giants' search for an outfielder is going "nowhere fast," reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The Dodgers and Diamondbacks have waiver priority and can block deals, though San Francisco likes having Gregor Blanco's defense in left for their fly ball pitching staff.
- Following their recent major move, the Red Sox want to keep Cody Ross according to Rosenthal (on Twitter). Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston says that Ross knows this and an extension could happen before the end of the season (Twitter links). Talks have not yet begun, however.
- The Rangers have claimed a number of players this month, including Justin Upton according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The club is looking for a number of ways to improve prior to August 31st.
- Before moving on to Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers made another attempt to acquire Justin Morneau last week according to Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times. They tried to land the Twins' slugger prior to the trade deadline as well.
- There is mutual interest between the Marlins and Carlos Lee about a return next season, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Earlier this month we heard that Lee wanted to return to Miami, but the club's intentions were unclear.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore told Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star that the team's focus this offseason will be the pitching staff, including an attempt to re-sign Jeremy Guthrie.
- Jonny Gomes told Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle that he would like to return to the Athletics next season. The 31-year-old is hitting .248/.360/.478 with 15 homers in 267 plate appearances this year.
The Dodgers are no longer a fit for Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, now that they've sent Nathan Eovaldi to Miami in the Hanley Ramirez deal. Rosenthal says the Twins seek a Major League ready starting pitcher for Morneau, and of course will have to work out the $19MM remaining on his contract.
Earlier today, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports named the Blue Jays and Giants as potential Morneau suitors.
The latest from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:
- The Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Giants "appear to have some interest" in Twins first baseman Justin Morneau. Heyman notes that the Dodgers are looking at many offensive options, possibly as many as 10. Morneau, 31, has somewhat bounced back to a .260/.322/.457 line after a 2011 season lost to concussion symptoms and other injuries. He has $5MM in salary remaining this year and is owed $14MM in 2013.
- The Athletics' top two choices for a shortstop upgrade are still Stephen Drew of the Diamondbacks and Yunel Escobar of the Blue Jays. The A's remain interested in Padres third baseman Chase Headley as well, but Heyman finds a match unlikely.
- The Mets have talked about Geovany Soto of the Cubs, Kelly Shoppach of the Red Sox, and Ramon Hernandez of the Rockies, but the prices are too high on these catchers. Heyman says the Mets may be willing to delay their catcher search until the winter.
The Dodgers and Cubs have had some discussions about including Alfonso Soriano or Bryan LaHair in a trade for Ryan Dempster, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. The Dodgers continue seeking offense as well as pitching, but it’s a definite longshot that they’ll acquire Soriano or LaHair, Knobler writes.
The Cubs are “desperate” to trade Soriano, who earns $18MM per season through 2014. The Cubs have offered to pay almost all of Soriano’s salary, but he’s drawing minimal interest from other teams, according to Knobler. At least one team has checked in on Soriano, who has 19 home runs and a respectable .274/.324/.503 batting line.
Here's the latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark...
- One official who spoke with the Marlins brass estimates that the odds Josh Johnson remains with Miami are "95 percent." The Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, and Royals have all checked in.
- Carlos Lee, Ricky Nolasco, Heath Bell, and Gaby Sanchez are all very available. Other than Johnson, Giancarlo Stanton will be the toughest player to pry away from the Fish.
- The Phillies have talked about trading Cliff Lee following the Cole Hamels extension and they haven't discouraged other teams from inquiring, but their game plan right now is to keep their trio of aces intact.
- Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton are good bets to be dealt and the Phillies will listen on Hunter Pence. They want multiple young big leaguers to plug holes at third base, in the outfield, and in the bullpen in return.
- The Dodgers are in on a number of starting pitchers, including Nolasco, Blanton, Kevin Millwood, and Jason Vargas in addition to Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. They've also checked in on outfield and first base help, including Victorino and Justin Morneau.
- Clubs have not been assured by the Cubs that Garza will make another start before the trade deadline due to his triceps issue. He's more likely to be dealt in the offseason.
- In the wake of acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, the Pirates are sending signals that they could trade away a starter like Jeff Karstens or Kevin Correia.
- The Twins' asking prices for Morneau ("pricey"), Denard Span ("more pricey"), and Josh Willingham ("it made me laugh") are high. Minnesota insists they will listen on anyone and Stark says Morneau is the bat they're most likely to move. Francisco Liriano is "nearly 100 percent" likely to be traded.
- The Orioles continue to look for pitching, someone they consider a number three starter or better. Garza and Vargas have their eye but Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are off the table. They've gotten hits on Jake Arrieta but won't move him unless they get a similar young arm with several years of team control remaining in return.
- The Brewers will trade Randy Wolf "for nothing if you take the money," according to one official.
- The Rays have "got a big market" for Wade Davis.
A handful of teams still don't know whether to buy, hold or sell with eight days remaining before the non-waiver trade deadline, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reports. Expanded playoffs are on the horizon for the first time, so more teams than ever are within striking distance of a postseason berth, and the trade market is unsettled as a result. Here are the latest notes from Passan and colleague Tim Brown...
- The Diamondbacks “adore” Rangers third base prospect Mike Olt, Passan writes. Olt could help the Rangers put together a competitive trade offer for 24-year-old right-fielder Justin Upton.
- Rival executives know the Braves are looking for pitching, which means Atlanta is up against extra-high asking prices, according to Passan. The Braves will acquire Ryan Dempster from the Cubs for Randall Delgado if Dempster approves the trade.
- The Twins are listening on Justin Morneau, Tim Brown reports. Minnesota wants teams to surrender a big leaguer for Morneau, while absorbing his entire contract ($14MM per season through 2013). That's a high asking price for a player with a history of concussion issues and a .744 OPS.
The trade market remains relatively quiet, but it’s starting to take shape, as Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com explains. Here are some details from Knobler:
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington said this week that "you can't buy when people aren't selling." The 32-30 Pirates figure to be looking for offense this summer.
- The Brewers are simultaneously preparing for the possibility of becoming sellers and suggesting they could become buyers. They’ve told their scouts to identify prospects to target in the farm systems of contending teams, yet they won’t necessarily sell. They remain interested in keeping Zack Greinke, whose contract expires after the season.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos asked the Twins about Justin Morneau, Knobler reports. Yet as one unnamed executive told Knobler “Alex calls about everyone." The Blue Jays are said to be particularly interested in Morneau, according to Knobler.
It’s still a little early for struggling teams to acknowledge to fans that it’s time to start looking ahead to 2013 and beyond, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. As a result the trade market remains relatively quiet. Here are some of Olney’s notes on team needs and possible deals:
- The Red Sox are now focused on adding starting pitching.
- The Athletics are ready to talk trades now, so Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour and Bartolo Colon are available.
- General managers are impressed by Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, just like everyone else. One GM told Olney Trout’s faster than Rickey Henderson. "He just rockets around the bases; you don't find players that skilled," the GM said. “They're all tooled-up, and they know how to play," another GM said in reference to the pair of young stars.
- Rival executives view Justin Morneau as a tremendously risky trade target because of his $14MM salary and history with concussions (Twitter link).
- Olney had more details on the trade market last night.