It had been an awfully long time since Justin Morneau had hit a homerun for the Minnesota Twins this season; but on Wednesday night, all of that changed. Morneau went 2-5 with a homerun—his first since April 28 of this year—and two RBI to lead the Twins to a 7-4 victory over the visiting Chicago White Sox. The victory seals a series victory over the White Sox for the Twins and brings their overall record up to 32-36 with the series finale waiting in the wings for Thursday afternoon.
Much has been made about Morneau’s lack of power over the last few weeks and some fans and analysts have pointed to the decreased amount of homeruns as evidence for the deteriorating value of Morneau to the Twins and other organizations. That isn’t to say that Morneau isn’t a valuable player to the Twins or cannot produce anymore; instead it is saying that Morneau isn’t the type of player that hits 30 HR in a season anymore and thus, the Twins will not receive that type of compensation for him should they trade him.
I don’t believe the Twins actually thought heading into this season that they could get a king’s ransom for Morneau, should they decide to trade him, but they knew that a big year from Morneau would certainly help his trade value and could net them a more valuable and talented prospect in return. Morneau isn’t getting any younger and his power is beginning to deteriorate, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Twins.
I believe that Morneau belongs in a Twins’ uniform for his entire career and he deserves to be resigned to a contract extension, albeit at a reasonable price. The Twins do not have a suitable replacement for Morneau at first base since Chris Parmelee has not shown consistently that he can produce at the majors. Couple that with Morneau’s decreasing value on the open market and his close ties to the fan base and organization in Minnesota and you have a recipe for a cheaper contract for an aging veteran. This would be a great situation for the Twins, despite Morneau’s decreased power numbers. Morneau can still be a valuable contributor to the Twins and can still drive in 100 runs a year. The only difference is that you won’t see 25-30 HR a season anymore and instead will have to accept 15-20 HR with more doubles and singles. Depending on what price you pay, that is still a very reasonable and valuable player to have.
I believe the Twins could resign Morneau for 6-9 million dollars a season over three years and would get great value in their investment. In addition, it would be great to see one of the greatest Twins’ players of all-time finish his career where he started it. As the Twins continue to inch their way back into perennial contenders, Morneau deserves to be a part of it. Should he continue to hit homeruns on a more regular basis, however, he just might price himself out of the Twins’ current and future plans.