Twins could trade Willingham, Morneau if team sputters early

Outfielder Josh Willingham could be available in a trade if the Twins get off to a slow start again. He hit 35 homers and had 110 RBI last season, but the Twins still lost 96 games.

Photo: JERRY HOLT • jerry.holt.startribune.com ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The best-case scenario for the Twins is that General Manager Terry Ryan will be a buyer at the trade deadline and not a seller.

“There’s a lot of ifs, we all know that,” Ryan said. “We have to have a lot of things go the right way. We’ve have had a pretty nice spring. We’ve added some good guys to the bunch, our health has pretty much held up.”

But Ryan pauses before adding, “We’ve got some question marks.”

And if the Twins don’t answer those questions, then such players as outfielder Josh Willingham and first baseman Justin Morneau could land with other teams.

Ryan spent the offseason trying to address the club’s largest need: starting pitching. He’s about to find out whether adding Mike Pelfrey, Vance Worley and Kevin Correia — plus developing Scott Diamond, Liam Hendriks, Kyle Gibson and others — is enough to make the team competitive.

It’s hard to go into this season expecting the Twins to have the horses to stay in the race. The American League Central appears to have gotten stronger. Some betting lines have the Twins’ over/under for wins at 64½ this season. That’s in between the 96 losses they suffered last season and the 99 in 2011.

All indications are that Ryan will be fielding calls from GMs wondering about his players. Last year, the Twins ended up dealing lefthander Francisco Liriano to the White Sox for Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez and third baseman Danny Valencia to the Red Sox for outfielder Jeremias Pineda.

The two most tradeable Twins will be Willingham and Morneau. Willingham hit 35 homers and drove in 110 runs last season and is in the middle of an affordable three-year, $21 million contract. If Willingham stays healthy and keeps hitting homers, then the Twins could fetch a decent return for the veteran masher.

Teams called about Willingham last season, but the Twins weren’t ready to deal him. They also checked in on Morneau, but he wasn’t a high priority because there were concerns about his health coming off concussion problems and surgeries. Plus, .287 with 19 homers and 77 RBI aren’t eye-popping numbers. But if Morneau gets off to a hot start, he could be coveted.

If Morneau plays well, the Twins could sign him to an extension. He is in the final year of a six-year, $80 million deal. They also could offer him a one-year qualifying offer so they can receive a draft pick as compensation if he signs elsewhere. If the Twins have a chance to win, Morneau prefers to stay.

If the Twins are in the middle of a third consecutive 90-loss season, Morneau and others could be headed elsewhere as the club enters what it hopes will be a quick rebuilding project.

“We are trying to be realistic here and make good baseball decisions for the present and the future,” Ryan said.

“We got pushed in the wrong direction last year.”

  • related content

  • Chart: Twins have trade bait

    Thursday March 28, 2013

    Trade baitThese players could find themselves on the market by the July 31 trading deadline if the Twins don’t improve...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
7:10 PM ET123456789RHE
ClevelandT. House (3-3)000
MinnesotaT. May (3-4)000
@theBallpark
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 5 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: D. O`Day 3
Milwaukee - LP: J. Broxton 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Holdzkom 4
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda 5
Washington - WP: D. Fister 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: T. Koehler 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 3
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 5 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Cleveland - LP: K. Crockett 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: J. Burton 5
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 10 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 10 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 5
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 15
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Lackey 2
Philadelphia - LP: D. Buchanan 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 3
Texas - WP: L. Bonilla 12 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 3
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: O. Despaigne 5
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 5
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close