The big news coming out of the Minnesota Twins’ organization on Tuesday was that veteran first baseman Justin Morneau had been placed on revocable waivers which, once again, reignited trade talks surrounding the franchise cornerstone. According to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Morneau was placed on waivers yesterday and the waiver period will expire tomorrow at noon central time. American League teams—in order of reverse standings—will have the first crack at Morneau before he is made available to National League teams, also in order of reverse standings. Once a claim is made and a deal is finalized, it will be announced; but there is no guarantee that any deal will be completed. The fact that the Twins placed Morneau on waivers should come as no surprise after the team dealt veteran Jamey Carroll to Kansas City on Sunday and Morneau has been hitting the best he has in years during the month of August.
Since the start of August, Morneau’s hitting .269 with six homers in 12 games overall. These stats may be as good as Morneau is going to get this season and if the Twins are not convinced that they can resign him in the off-season—or if they believe Morneau isn’t part of their future plans—it makes sense that the team would explore trading the slugger; but just because he has been placed on waivers, doesn’t mean he is surely going to be dealt. Last season, the Twins placed catcher Joe Mauer on waivers and wouldn’t you know, Mauer is still part of the team.
Sometimes, teams place players on waivers to see who is interested in a particular player and to gage what teams are willing to give them for the player. In essence, teams are feeling out the market for their assets and by being able to revoke the player off waivers at any time—and effectively kill the deal—it doesn’t hurt anything to place a player like Morneau on waivers just to see. Most of the time, players don’t even know they have been placed or claimed on waivers; thus, no feelings are ever hurt. I truly believe that the team is taking the same approach they did last year with Mauer that they are this year with the Morneau situation; but unlike last year, they would be willing to move Morneau if they are overwhelmed by a deal.
The Twins certainly have a deal in mind that they would be willing to work out for Morneau, if a team approached them with a package of players that peaked their interest; however, what teams are willing to give the Twins remains unknown right now. I still believe that teams aren’t willing to give up much for Morneau and since Morneau has been playing better as of late, he Twins’ asking price will be higher and will remain constant throughout all discussions. It is for that reason—the Twins’ constant and higher asking price—that I believe Morneau will ultimately stay with the team and sign a contract extension, or receive brand new contract altogether, before next season; so breathe easy Morneau fans, for I believe Morneau will retire in a Twins’ uniform which will be the only one he’ll ever wear.