The Twins needed a big year from Justin Morneau. Not because it was going to help push them over the top, but because a productive Morneau may have yielded a prospect or two at the trade deadline that would have proven helpful toward the rebuilding effort.
Unfortunately, Morneau has done very little this year to make himself an appealing trade chip. While many (including myself) were expecting a return to form of sorts now that the former MVP had seemingly shaken all his injury woes, his performance has only reinforced that he is not the player he once was. Not even close.
After going 0-for-4 in Tuesday night's loss to the Marlins, Morneau is hitting .282/.331/.383 on the season. His .714 OPS ranks him 22nd out of 27 qualifying MLB first basemen. That he has managed to hit only three home runs this season is almost hard to believe. That total ranks him ninth on a Twins team that is second-to-last in the AL in homers.
I wouldn't say that Morneau has been terrible; after all, he's gotten his hits and has driven in 42 runs, albeit mostly due to hitting behind Joe Mauer. But, while it makes every bit of sense for the Twins to heavily shop Morneau at the deadline in order to shed his salary and create playing time for Chris Parmelee, would any contending team have any interest in acquiring him?
Right now, it's tough to see it, even if it meant only taking on Morneau's ~$5 million in remaining salary and giving up a non-prospect. No team that is within range of first place in its respective division has gotten worse production from first base than Morneau has given the Twins. Although a few (such as Baltimore and Cleveland) could have some level of interest in adding him as a DH, there will undoubtedly be several better hitters on the market.
At this rate, the only way the Twins are going to be able to unload Morneau is by assuming the majority of his remaining salary and accepting very little in return. It still might be best course of action, all things considered, but it's a heck of an unfortunate turn of events for a 32-year-old who spent many years of his career among baseball's true elite.
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