Justin Morneau Rumors
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that he is surprised to see the Yankees still in the wild card hunt despite all of the chaos they have endured this season. The chaos he refers to, of course, mostly has to do with Alex Rodriguez. The silver lining there is that if they throw the book at A-Rod, then they'll be in position to add to the team via free agency. “The one thing the Yankees don’t have, they don’t have those guys in the minors that can come up and make an impact for them,” said an American League exec. “They won’t have that for a couple of years. So, if they’re going to do a Red Sox-type rebuild, they have a disadvantage. Where Boston has a number of pitchers and positional prospects ready to make an impact, the Yankees don’t. So, they still have to make their impact through free agency and possibly trades.” Here's more from today's column..
- The Twins believe they had enough interest in Justin Morneau that if he continues to hit well and shows power, he could be moved to a contender in a waiver deal. The Blue Jays might claim him but the Rays, Orioles, and Indians might also have some interest.
- Giants righty Tim Lincecum could be a big fish that goes in a waiver deal as some teams like him as a valuable bullpen piece down the stretch. The Giants weren’t offered anything good enough at the deadline, but given his $22MM salary and the fact he’s in the final year of his deal, the Giants may want to free themselves shortly.
- Giants outfielder Hunter Pence will be a free agent but he really wants to stay put and he has expressed that to GM Brian Sabean. However, Sabean told him that if something knocked their socks off they would move him — but nothing materialized. He could be another movable part during August, but the Giants plan to make him a qualifying offer and then try to re-sign him long term.
- Marlins third baseman Placido Polanco is 37 and isn't the strongest fielder, but he remains a possible target for teams such as the Red Sox and Yankees, who need a veteran presence and a guy who can still hit from the right side.
- Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman tried to get Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz from the Phillies. Though neither deal happened, they are both possibilities as waiver deals during the month of August. However, Cafardo notes that Ruiz might not make it past the NL teams in the waiver process.
- Royals right-hander Ervin Santana could theoretically be moved during the waiver period, but it looks like he’s in Kansas City to stay. As one GM said, “He might be the biggest target going in August. Doubt he gets too far, though.”
- When asking General Managers which former GM they miss the most, J.P. Ricciardi got the most responses. Many believe Ricciardi will be a GM again, whether it’s taking over for Sandy Alderson when he wants to step down with the Mets, or with another club. Cafardo runs down Ricciardi's highlights in Toronto and notes that he was working with the club when their wasn't money to work with.
12:11pm: Saunders is not a target for the Orioles right now, hears Connolly.
10:57am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Orioles feel the asking prices remain too high in their pursuits of upgrades to their offense and rotation.
10:47am: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets that the O's kicked around the idea of acquiring Morneau but don't see a fit due to his contract and lack of production. Nothing has heated up in recent days, he adds.
Baltimore's interest in both players has been well-documented to this point, though they appear to have shown more interest in Norris than Morneau. Norris is controllable for two additional seasons and earning just $3MM in 2013, while the slumping Morneau is a free agent at season's end and is owed an additional $4.6MM through season's end.
- The Twins are receiving lots of calls on Perkins but still telling teams they won't trade him, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The team is also receiving interest in Willingham, despite the fact that he's currently on the DL.
- Berardino writes that Willingham is drawing interest, and one rival talent evaluator told him he could see a scenario where Willingham is dealt. GM Terry Ryan spoke to the media about trade chips last night, adds Berardino. While he didn't mention Willingham's name, he referenced the recent trade of Jesse Crain and a previous trade the Twins had made with injured players: "We did that once with the Dodgers, way back in the day, so it can be done."
- An August trade of Morneau is a more likely outcome than a deadline deal, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Rangers are a long shot to make a run at Morneau, the Orioles have cooled on him and the Pirates have other targets atop their wish list at this time.
- The Pirates, Orioles and two unidentified teams make up the market for Morneau at this time, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Rangers don't appear to be a fit, as they're seeking a right-handed bat, and the Yankees are content with Lyle Overbay as a lefty swinging option at first base.
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins are willing to eat some of the remaining $4.6MM on Morneau's contract if it means receiving a decent return.
- Reports from earlier today stated that Morneau wasn't a fit with the Orioles due to his contract and lack of production.
Justin Morneau has spent more than 14 years with the Twins organization since being selected in the third round of the 1999 draft, but the now 32-year-old former AL MVP finds his name swirling about the rumor mill. Here's the latest on Morneau, who is in the final season of a six-year, $80MM contract and owed roughly $4.7MM over the remainder of 2013...
- The Orioles have engaged the Twins in trade talks regarding Morneau, writes Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Miller adds that a source puts it at 50-50 whether Morneau remains with the Twins or is traded prior to tomorrow's 4pm ET trade deadline. Morneau's July swoon at the plate isn't helping his trade value either, Miller notes.
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press spoke to an AL scout who called Morneau "a shell of his former self," noting that his glove work at first base has taken a significant downturn as well. "The mobility and the agility are not there," the scout said. Berardino writes that a contract for Morneau may have to follow the mold of those signed by Travis Hafner and James Loney this offseason. Each signed for a $2MM base salary with additional incentives ($4MM for Hafner, $1MM for Loney). Another club monitoring Morneau considered the three-year, $21MM pact signed by his teammate, Josh Willingham, to be a fair comparable.
- Within that same piece, Berardino also notes that the Rays monitored Morneau for weeks but appear to be an unlikely landing spot. He also agrees with Miller's report that there's about a 50-50 chance Morneau is dealt (on Twitter).
- Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com names the Orioles as a primary team involved in talks for the Phillies'Michael Young, along with the Rangers and Red Sox. The versatile Young appears to make the most sense for Baltimore as a DH, Edes says. T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reported earlier this evening that the Rangers aren't planning to reunite with Young.
- A top Orioles scout was in Seattle this week as the Mariners took on the Twins, who have made Justin Morneau available, Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun reports. An industry source tells Connolly that the Orioles have asked the Twins about the former MVP, who will earn about $6MM over the rest of the season, though the talks are considered "preliminary." As Connolly notes, DH might be Baltimore's biggest hole.
- The O's have liked Seattle's Mike Morse for years, Connolly adds. Morse, 31, is currently rehabbing a quadriceps injury in Triple-A, but has hit .251/.313/.454 in 227 plate appearances so far this year, appearing mainly in the outfield. Connolly also says the O's could add still another arm, potentially a lefty for a late-inning role, noting that the Mariners'Oliver Perez could fit that bill. However, "the sense within the organization" is that the Orioles might be done shopping, as the team is hesitant to add payroll and won't send top prospects in a deal for a rental player.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
In his latest edition of Rumblings & Grumblings, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com spoke with Skip Schumaker, who wants to see MLB really amp up the penalties for PED use. "The players are in favor of stricter penalties. No doubt," Schumaker said. "And they're also in favor of voiding contracts. Not that I can speak for everybody. I can't. But let's just say that a few of my good friends are high-profile players, and they're in favor of cleaning up the game." Here's more from Stark's column..
- An exec who speaks frequently with the Phillies says they have talked a lot with the Padres about a deal that could send Luke Gregerson and an outfielder to Philadelphia for a package of young players. However, the Phillies appear to be looking for deals that wouldn't require parting with their most advanced prospects. Earlier today, we heard that Gregerson is drawing significant interest.
- Gregerson also appears to be at the top of the list for the Tigers. However, it's going to take at least one big league-ready young player who projects as an immediate contributor for the Padres, in part because Gregerson is under club control for next season.
- While the discussion around the Phillies is framed as a black-and-white decision between buying and selling, execs of two clubs say they're mostly trying to position themselves for the future without giving up on 2013.
- The Braves are more interested in the starting pitcher market than they were before Tim Hudson's injury, but they're no more likely to pay the price for a Jake Peavy, Ervin Santana, Yovani Gallardo or Kyle Lohse. An official of one team who spoke with the Braves said they'd be open to a modest deal similar to their deal for Paul Maholm last year, but they're "not going to trade Alex Wood for any of the guys on this market." Earlier today, MLB.com's Mark Bowman offered a different take, reporting that the Braves are looking at front-line hurlers.
- Three clubs with interest in the Astros' Bud Norris tell Stark that they have a feeling that Houston may just be gauging the hurler's trade value and could be waiting to move him this winter. Those execs said it reminds them of how the Rays used to gauge interest in pitchers like Matt Garza and James Shields in July so they could focus on those teams' systems before dealing them the following offseason.
- Clubs that have checked in with the Royals say Santana is only available for a huge payout. The Royals have openly told the shoppers they've talked to that the only way they'll move Santana is if they "win the deal," and that means they want a second baseman and/or right fielder who can start for them in 2014. Despite their situation, the Royals are telling everyone their priority is to win as many games as possible this season, not cut payroll.
- Clubs that are in on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez seem to think that the Red Sox are the favorite because they like the idea of spending money on a big-league-ready guy more than overpaying in prospects for a strong pitcher on the trade market. One exec says that he should be in the big leagues by September and be a rotation regular next year.
- The Pirates might not be as focused on Alex Rios as they've been portrayed. Rios' contract, which would increase his base salary to $13MM next season if he's traded, doesn't fit into their payroll. On top of that, other scouts say Bucs scouts have questioned Rios' effort. Stark says Justin Morneau, who they've inquired on, is a name to file away. Even though they'd prefer a right-handed bat who could play right field, they could move Garrett Jones back to right if they deal for a first baseman.
Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels haven't heard anything new about Nelson Cruz's links to the Biogenesis scandal, but Daniels tells ESPN Dallas' Todd Willis that he has thought about the possibility of losing his right fielder to suspension. "We really are somewhat intentionally and maybe wisely in the dark on this. And so we we're going to sit back and wait for the best and try to make our club as strong as possible," Daniels said. If Cruz is indeed suspended for the rest of 2013, it could intensify the Rangers' search for batting help. In another piece from Willis, Daniels admitted that his club's offense hasn't been up to par and if Texas makes another move, it would likely be for a bat.
Here are some more items from around baseball...
- The Giants have shown no interest in trading Hunter Pence, ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets. We heard on Sunday that Giants were unlikely to deal Pence unless they received a blow-away offer or they fell out of the NL West race. The latter could be close to happening, given the Giants' 46-54 record.
- The Phillies will send a scout to Brian Wilson's throwing session on Thursday, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. GM Ruben Amaro said the team will leave "no stone unturned" in their search for relief help, hence their interest in Wilson's progress. Amaro noted this isn't the first time the Phillies have checked in on Wilson, who hasn't pitched since April 2012 due to Tommy John surgery.
- Justin Morneau's July slump has just about destroyed his trade value, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities writes. Between Morneau's poor form, injury history, impending free agency and salary, Mackey doesn't think the Twins will be able to get even "a second-tier prospect" for the former AL MVP.
- The Dodgers are looking for veteran relief depth, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon reports, though Saxon notes that could even be a luxury piece given how the team is firing on all cylinders right now.
- If the Marlins are to trade Giancarlo Stanton, Metsblog.com's Matthew Cerrone hears that Miami wouldn't want prospects, but rather "equal value" -- a young star player who is controllable for longer than Stanton's three seasons of team control. For instance, if the Mets wanted Stanton, the Marlins would want Matt Harvey in return.
- Baseball America subscribers can read Ben Badler's scouting report on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Cuban right-hander who has drawn interest from at least 10 teams.
In a piece for CBSSports.com, Danny Knobler notes that the Yankees are pinning their playoff hopes on strong returns from aging stars like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Knobler opines that a recent comment from GM Brian Cashman ("These guys are trying, but...") is an admission that the current Yankees' lineup may not be good enough to carry the team to the playoffs. Cashman also commented on A-Rod's eventual return, saying his production at third base should be "better than [what] we've gotten from third base, with all due respect." However, in a recent tweet, ESPN's Buster Olney suggests that Rodriguez is likely to spend more time at DH than at third when he rejoins the Yankees. On to tonight's AL East links...
- Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News says Cashman needs to acquire a bat to bolster the team's fizzling attack, but Cashman reports that it's tough to find offense in this year's trade market. "The phone calls are taking place, but nothing to show for it,” Cashman said. “I think if you’re looking for offense, Exhibit A is, name me the bat that’s moved already? It hasn’t. Exhibit B is, look at all the big rumors out there – they’re involving pitchers ... It’s just an offensive offense market." McCarron suggests that the addition of the second wild card slot may be causing more teams to consider themselves contenders later into the season.
- Sources in the Red Sox organization tell Knobler that the team's top priority is relief pitching despite continuing uncertainty about starter Clay Buchholz, who hasn't pitched since June 8 and has no target return date. The Sox began the season with a strong bullpen, but injuries to Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Miller have thinned out the team's relief corps, leading GM Ben Cherington to acquire lefty Matt Thornton from the White Sox last week. The Sox appear to be content with Koji Uehara as their closer, Knobler observes.
- The Red Sox also continue to monitor the trade market for third basemen, and it's believed they have significant interest in the Phillies' Michael Young, according to Knobler. However, Philadelphia's recent run of success means they don't appear to be in sell mode. The Brewers' Aramis Ramirez is a potential fit, but he's currently on the disabled list with a knee issue and may not return until right at the deadline, Knobler writes. Meanwhile, third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who manned the hot corner for much of 2012 for the Sox, continues to post mediocre numbers at Triple-A Pawtucket. However, Knobler says some in the Boston organization continue to hope he'll put things together.
- The Orioles are "tapped out" financially in terms of adding another player via trade, a team-connected source tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. GM Dan Duquette added righty Scott Feldman in a trade with the Cubs earlier this month. The O's aren't in the market for an ace pitcher, and any deal for a DH or outfielder would have to fit the team's limited budget. The Twins' Justin Morneau, who's owed $6MM for the remainder of the year, would be "too expensive," an Orioles source tells Heyman. Instead, O's fans should look for any help to come from within, Heyman says, citing the recently promoted outfield prospect Henry Urrutia and pitcher Kevin Gausman.
We'll end the evening with some links from the AL Central ...
- Twins first baseman Justin Morneau talked to reporters, including MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger, about the recent trade rumors that have circulated. While he has a six-team no-trade clause, Morneau said that none of those teams are among the clubs reportedly interested in dealing for him.
- Morneau also expressed that he hopes to stay in Minnesota, but has not been contacted about an extension. Set to become a free agent in 2013, the 32-year-old figures to be worth far short of his now-expiring six-year, $80MM deal.
- For his part, Twins owner Jim Pohlad told La Velle E. Neal II of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that, while he would not "feel great about [Morneau] being traded," the team ultimately must "do whatever it takes to win." He added that Minnesota has twice rebuffed Morneau when he approached the club to try and discuss an extension.
- Even with Joaquin Benoit, Drew Smyly, and Bruce Rondon pitching well at the back of the bullpen, the Tigers continue to explore the trade market, according to CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler. He says that Detroit is scouting the Marlins, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, and Astros in search of bullpen pieces.
- While Knobler does not connect the Tigers to any specific relievers, he does say that the team is not interested in Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees. Dan Martin of the New York Post, on the other hand, reports precisely the opposite. (Hat tip to River Ave. Blues.) He writes that the Tigers may be one of the only teams interested in Chamberlain, with the Phillies, Braves, and Giants not intrigued.
- There was a moment of excitement tonight when White Sox outfielder and trade candidate Alex Rios was pulled from the game after the sixth inning. Rumored to have been seen hugging in the dugout, it turns out that Rios was pulled for not hustling on the basepaths. MLB.com's Scott Merkin was among the first (Twitter link) to firmly quash the speculation that a Rios trade had gone down.
- Since peaking in late May with an OPS that reached .928, Rios has seen his on-base and (especially) power numbers plummet. On the heels of two substandard months, Rios now stands at a league-average OPS of .755 for the year, making him a less compelling trade piece than he looked to be back in May.
- Expect a lot of teams to be watching Jake Peavy's start today for the White Sox. Peavy, who could be the most valuable starter available since he is controlled through next season, will look to prove that he is healthy and effective after a DL stint.
Earlier tonight, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports took a look at the Twins' trade chips, noting that the market for Justin Morneau is soft at this time, with a few interested parties deterred by the $6MM remaining on the former MVP's contract. Here's more on Morneau and the rest of the AL Central...
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes that the M&M Boys (Joe Mauer and Morneau) in Minnesota is coming to an end. Berardino took some time over the All-Star break to talk to Mauer and former teammates Michael Cuddyer, Joe Nathan and Carlos Gomez about Morneau's leadership abilities. All spoke with the utmost respect for the Canadian slugger.
- Royals general manager Dayton Moore is not in sell mode despite the team's recent slide in the standings, writes Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Moore says he won't shift gears and focus on the future, though that doesn't mean he won't acquire players who can help the team beyond 2013. He also won't entertain offers for free-agent-to-be Ervin Santana.
- A source close to Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez told Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities that there's no steam between the Twins and Gonzalez (Twitter link). Earlier tonight, the Twins were connected to Gonzalez but listed as a long shot due to his price tag.
- The White Sox and Indians are two of the three teams that MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports as suitors for 19-year-old Cuban right-hander Leandro Linares (Twitter links). The Marlins also have interest in Linares, who does fall under the newest CBA's international signing guidelines.