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TwinsCentric: Window open for another Twins trade?

Posted by: Parker Hageman Updated: December 13, 2012 - 11:57 PM

 The Minnesota Twins’ offseason has been interesting to say the least.

With the team trading away not one but two of their major league ready center fielders, the writing on the wall at 1 Twins Way appears to read that the focus is on the future. Outwardly, the Twins are sending the message that they are doing what they can to build a competitive team in 2013 but also taking measures to fortify the club for the coming years. Behind closed doors however, the tone may be different as the reality is that the organization recognizes the window for success begins at least one year down the road.

And this may be the reason why Justin Morneau could be traded yet this offseason.  

During the winter meetings, the Twins were reported to have been “gauging interest” from other teams on what they would give for Morneau. Obviously nothing materialized at the time and, furthermore, the Twins may have simply been testing the waters rather than outright shopping their first baseman. That said, as the team made abundantly clear after last season, no one is untradeable.

The conditions were not favorable at the time of baseball’s annual agent orgy, at least not for the first base market. Had someone like the Orioles offered up a top flight arm, Morneau may already be eating Maryland crab cakes. Instead, teams were still addressing other needs. Targeting vital up-the-middle position players. Trying to land top-of-the-rotation arms. The game’s top free agents had yet to sign. The dominoes were still mostly intact.

That changed yesterday when Angels signed outfielder Josh Hamilton out from under the Texas Rangers’ nose. Not only did the Rangers lose a talented player to their division rival, they also became fairly exposed from the left-side of the plate.

Because of that, it may not be long before the Rangers call on Morneau and ask: “How much?”

Aside from losing Hamilton’s production from the left side, they also have lost their designated hitter in Young. Potentially desperate to address those needs, Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels may be inquiring on Morneau soon. With the Angels launching themselves into the catbird seat of the AL West and the surprising and youthful Oakland A’s extremely competitive as well, Daniels will surely need to counteract what his rivals have done this winter.

From the Rangers’ perspective, targeting Morneau makes plenty of sense. In spite of witnessing a decline in his home run totals in recent years, a new venue could help rejuvenate the Canadian slugger. The Ballpark at Arlington is one of the most favorable environments for left-handed hitters to play. According to StatCorner.com’s Park Factors, Texas’s stadium has a home run factor of 117 (anything over 100 favors hitters). By comparison, Target Field’s confines thwart that type of power production to the tune of 78. In theory, Morneau’s numbers would be enhanced significantly with the Rangers.

Additionally, with one year left on his contract, it would be a relatively risk-free (minus the concussion, of course) deal for Texas. Under most circumstances, the idea of asking a team to absorb $14M for a 31-year-old with injury issues may be a tall task, however, Texas is one of a few teams who seem able to assume the risk. The Rangers, who have lost Hamilton’s previous contract ($15.25M), Mike Napoli’s ($9.4M) and a portion of Michael Young’s ($5.5M of his total $16M owed), have payroll space to add Morneau’s contract if they so choose. As it stands, they have roughly $50M committed to players (pre-arbitration contracts, of course) after reached $120M in 2012. After all, in addition to whatever revenue they generate for being one of the best attended teams in the American League (2 of 14), they also have approximately $80 million a year coming in from their TV deal with Fox Sports Southwest.

Conversely, by most measures, the Rangers are a smart team. Daniels has been one of the most impressive general managers in the game – building his organization from the ground up, emphasizing scouting, bringing in elite international talent and targeting quality free agents. After making several moves to acquire players like Cliff Lee and Ryan Dempster in recent years, he has also lost some notable prospect talent so it is hard to envision the Rangers sacrificing much in any deal.

Likewise, the overall market for Morneau was lukewarm at best at the deadline last year. Even losing a star player to a division opponent may not be enough to inspire Daniels to surrender the young pitching the Twins are hoping for.

Does Morneau make the Twins better in 2013? Yes. Would trading him upset the fan base? Of course. Is he untouchable? Obviously not. The Twins sent the message at the winter meeting that Morneau could be had for a price, not it appears that the Rangers maybe in a position where they might have to pay that.

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@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Price(15-12) L:K.Gibson(13-12) S:J.Nathan (35)
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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 10/20/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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