JANUARY 15: Morneau will indeed retire, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweets. He’s expected to hold a press conference to announce the move on Wednesday.
JANUARY 9: Long-time Twins star Justin Morneau is slated to join the team as a special assistant, according to Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network (via Twitter). It would appear that the decision spells the end of his playing days, though there’s no clear word yet of that.
Morneau, 36, told Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.ca in late October that he was not ready to retire officially, but also seemingly acknowledged his playing career was likely over. At the time, Morneau said he had hoped to play in 2017 but had not been willing to go down to Triple-A and wait for a phone call. It has never seemed likely that the opportunities would improve over time, particularly now that Morneau did not play in the just-completed season.
Entering the 2017 campaign, Morneau was already expressing some uncertainty about his future, though he also sounded like someone who wanted to carry on. Now, though, indications clearly are he’s moving on to other challenges in the baseball world.
If this is indeed the end of the line, Morneau will end his career as one of the best and most productive players ever to hail from his native Canada. In the aggregate, the first baseman turned in 22.6 fWAR and 27.3 rWAR over his 14 MLB campaigns. He also earned just shy of $100MM, due in large part to a six-year, $80MM extension he struck with Minnesota in 2008.
Of course, it’s hard not to ask what might have been. Morneau won the American League MVP Award in 2006 and went to the All-Star Game in each of the ensuing four seasons. As of mid-2010, he carried a lifetime .286/.358/.511 batting line. And he was then in the midst of his best season, boasting a whopping .345/.437/.618 output with 18 home runs through 81 games.
Things changed suddenly when Morneau took a knee to the head in a collision at second base. The concussion he suffered knocked him out for the rest of the season and limited him to just 69 games in the ensuing campaign. While he was eventually able to return to above-average work at the plate, and even turned in a very strong 2014 season with the Rockies (.319/.364/.496), Morneau never fully regained his standing on the field.
Injuries limited Morneau in 2015 and delayed his start to the 2016 campaign, when he signed a one-year deal with the White Sox after offseason elbow surgery. He ultimately managed only a .261/.303/.429 output for Chicago — respectable work for his age-35 season after so many travails, but not enough to drive interest from other organizations after the end of the season. Morneau also appeared in the World Baseball Classic in 2017, representing his fourth appearance for home country and perhaps his last competitive action on the field.
In addition to the organizations already noted, Morneau spent a brief stretch with the Pirates in 2013, following his mid-season trade from the Twins. Clearly, Morneau will forever be associated with the Minnesota franchise, though, after 11 good years there. He was part of a core group that featured mainstays such as Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, and Joe Mauer. While the Twins never experienced much postseason success in that era, they did take home six AL Central titles in a nine-year span (2002 through 2010).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Nor Rau ought to be in the Twins lineup. Welcome home, Justin!
Damn spellcheck… and there’s apparently no ‘edit’ feature…
One of my favorite players. Good luck to him and welcome back to MN!
Why can’t he at least be a bench player? He would be an excellent winch hitter.
I have to comment on the user name:
I’ve got tons of mail for Pepe. Pepe Silvia, Pepe Silvia! Well I march my way down to Carol in HR and I say “CAROLLL! CAROLL! I gotta talk to you about Pepe!” I open the door and you know what find out, Mac? There’s not a single desk in that office; there is…no…Carol…in HR! Mac, the whole place is a ghost town!
I’VE GOT BOXES OF PEPE!!!!!
A fan once said since Charlie can’t read he was ‘reading Pennsylvania as Pepe Silvia and Carol as “Care Of”. The writers said it wasn’t true but that was a fantastic idea.
Not only do all these people exist, but they’ve been asking for their mail all day.
Sad that it’s over for him. I definitely think about what could have been wit him. I’m glad he’s back with the Twins, even if he’s not playing.
He did amazing with Colorado in 2014 and 2015, got a lousy contract in 2016 with Chicago and barely played and didn’t do horrible. Then didn’t get any contract in 2017????? I’m sorry but he should’ve been a starting first basemen or at least DH in the MLB. He has the talent. In 2015 he hit over 300. He should at least be a number one pinch hitter in the NL.
Not much market for a one-dimensional pinch hitter, though. Most of those guys come in and have to play a few innings in the field. I liked him as a player and it’s too bad things worked out for him the way they did, but his playing days are over.
Morneau is one of those guys in my opinion that’s similar to Mattingly. What could he have done had he not been injured? Mattingly and Morneau were on their way to Hall of Fame careers in my opinion.
Donny baseball averaged 147 games played a season? When was he injured?
Didn’t he have a balky back that robbed him of his power?
and he was in the bottle!
1990, when he only played 102 games.
I don’t think a single injury-shortened season could make or break a player’s HOF case.
No-but he was different after his back was injured. Look it up.
Me neither. Someone asked when was he injured. I answered.
Look at these stats :
200+ hits 3 times, multiple GG’s, led his league in RBI, led his league in 2b’s multiple times, and a career high BA of .352 one season.
(by the way, those stats apply to Cecil Cooper) Cooper and Mattingly were probably the two most comparable players ever. Yet Mattingly’s name is constantly brought up for the HOF because he played for the Yankees. Cooper was one-and-done on the ballot.
But in my opinion, neither one deserves to be in the HOF.
Why does Canada even bother having a team LOL
Because at worst they are the 11th best baseball country in the world with a few high end talent players?
Because baseball is fun
Sucks to see him go. One of my favourite players growing up, and him being from Canada didn’t hurt lol. Always hoped that I’d see him play for the Jays one day. Good luck in retirement, Justin!
Even as a White Sox fan who watched him beat the Sox for years, I felt bad for him when he never recovered from that concussion. He was a heck of a hitter. Maybe he’ll transition to hitting coach.
Why wouldn’t you just get another burrito Todd?
Best Twins signing so far this offseason
How many times do I have to visit this page before the Twins do something significant?
Goodnight sweet prince.
Great. Now Betsy Bissen can stalk Morneau again, and probably accuse Him of something. All the while, drooling over her Rear Pics of Him on Her Blog, that she deleted immediately after the Sano accusations…
You’re a clown
Clown with facts….
Retirement Announces Justin Morneau
Could be a good hitting coach one day.
Always thought highly of Morneau, and wish him all the best in this transition.
He was my favorite Twin while he was here. It’ll be cool to have him around the organization.
Not a very flattering picture of him… he looks like PC Principal!