A lot has been made this off-season—especially by this blogger—about the situation the Minnesota Twins are in with first basemen Justin Morneau. Morneau is entering the final year of his contract with the team and is slated to make $14 million in 2013. Many around the league firmly believe the Twins will be looking to trade Morneau around the trade deadline to acquire more pieces to fuel their rebuilding effort. Whether or not that is going to happen remains to be seen, but why wait until the trade deadline if the Twins could get a great deal for Morneau right now with a team decimated by injuries and in need of a first baseman? That team is the New York Yankees and although it pains me to even think of trading Morneau to the “Evil Empire”, the Yankees provide a perfect suitor for the Twins to deal with.
If there’s one thing for certain in baseball, it is that the Yankees are willing to spend money and will stop at nothing to acquire as much talent as possible. The team is backed by a wealthy owner and a talented—yet aging—nucleus that is beginning to show signs of age; but even in their aging process, the Yankees are still better than 75 percent of all teams in baseball. When a “small-market” team like the Twins have a player under contract for $14 million, the team looks hard at their value and production because that is a sizable amount of money toward their payroll. For the Yankees, $14 million is simply a number attached to a player.
The Yankees have been ravaged by injuries so far this spring with injuries to Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, who will be out eight to ten weeks following an injury to his wrist. With a win now mentality that the Yankees employ, it would not be unheard of to see the Yankees make a brash move and go out and acquire a big-name player to fill in until Teixeira comes back. Once Teixeira comes back, that player would then find another suitable role on the team.
It seems to me that Morneau would be a logical target for the Yankees to pursue because currently their options are Kevin Youkilis—who has played third base his entire career—or Travis Hafner—who has primarily been used as a designated hitter throughout his fragile career—at first base, with the other candidate likely becoming the designated hitter. When Teixeira comes back, the Yankees still could use more production out of the DH spot and could also use insurance at first base in case Teixeira’s wrist doesn’t heal properly or on time. That is why a trade for Morneau makes sense.
Morneau is having a great spring training so far hitting .471 with a HR and eight RBI in 17 at-bats over six games. His value may get better if he continues this tear into the season, but will a situation or circumstance be any better than the situation in New York right now? That is the question the Twins front office will have to ask themselves if they plan on moving Morneau. If they don’t plan on moving him, they need to sign him to an extension soon to save themselves some money because Morneau is poised to have a great year and will cost the team more money in an extension as the year progresses.
The Yankees have several young prospects that could intrigue the Twins in any deal such as pitchers Dellin Betances and Mark Montgomery or outfielder Slade Heathcott. It isn’t unheard of to see the Yankees overpay for a player or overreact to an injury so nothing at this point should be ruled out. The Twins’ may be hoping that Morneau continues his hot streak into the season so his value rises even higher and they can receive more for him in any deal, but I caution them to reconsider. I do believe Morneau will have a great season, but do you really want to trust the health of a player who is one bad hop or blow to the head away from ending his career? That is up to Twins’ executives to decide.