Last week, as the trade deadline approached, Justin Morneau was featured in the latest trade rumors. That made sense. First, Morneau had been productive and healthy. Second, Chris Parmelee is raking at first base in AAA but shut out in the majors. Finally, Morneau is still owed about $19M for the rest of this year and next. Moving him would give the Twins that much more money to spend on pitching this offseason.
No deal was consummated, and it doesn’t sound like one was close, but that doesn’t mean the end of the rumors. They’ll flow into this offseason and will likely gain additional steam because this year the crop of free agent first basemen is so bleak. There is no Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols or even a Paul Konerko in this class.
The top name? Would you believe the 37-year-old Carlos Lee? Yes, the same Carlos Lee who was already salary dumped this year and then was rumored to be on the block again. He has all of six home runs, but at least he’s hitting .292. Now look into the rest of the void….
Sure, They’re Old, But At Least They’re Hurt.
He has just 75 at-bat this year because he’s been out the last two months after knee surgery, and that was following a previous stay on the DL for a calf injury. There will be serious concerns that his 36-year-old body can’t take the grind of a full season any more.
Similarly, Huff is 35 years old and has only has 61 at-bats this year (and is hitting just .148) because of several DL stints which include an anxiety disorder and knee tendonitis.
Ok, he’s not hurt, but he’s hitting .193, so who could tell? He's also 35 years old and still can’t hit left-handers. Like the others, he’s worth no more than a flyer?
Bad, But Bad In A Youngish Way
He’s just 30 years old, but he has never hit more than 12 home runs in his career, is struggling against left-handers and is hitting just .223.
He’s the reason the Dodgers were talking to the Twins about Morneau at the deadline. He’s hitting .257 with two home runs. Two. As in two more than I have hit for the Dodgers this year. The only thing he has going for him is that he’s only 28 years old.
They’re Old. They Also Don’t Start.
All you need to know about the 35-year-old Wigginton is that the only way he’s available is if the Phils DON’T pick up a $4M option on him. That should clarify his value.
Yes, I’m talking about the 35-year-old bench player for the Braves for the lat 3 years. He has not seen 400 at-bats from a team since 2005.
Winner: Justin Morneau
Morneau, by comparison, is 31 years old, hitting .275 and has 15 home runs. Those numbers don’t justify a $14M salary next year. And if he was a free agent, he would not garner any offers for that kind of money annually.
However, he is also the class of that list. If Morneau was a free agent, right now it looks like a two-year deal (for maybe $16M?) would not be out of the question. A three-year deal might be in play. If he and his agent insisted on a one-year deal (to increase his value for another run at free agency), a $9-10M deal might not be out of the question.
But more important than the numbers is simply supply and demand. This offseason, the supply of first basemen who can be a middle-of-the-order presence for a competitive team is limited. In fact, it could be just Morneau. If Terry Ryan decides he is willing to trade Morneau – either to make room for Parmelee or to free up $14M in cash – there sure should be some desperate teams out there.
Seth Stohs of Twins Daily broke the story last night that in a surprise move, the Twins top two choices from this last June's draft are already being promoted up a league. It is rare for the Twins to promote players this young this quickly, especially since one is a pitcher and the other, #2 overall pick Byron Buxton, was hitting just .216 in the Gulf Coast League. You can get the details here. Boy, it would be nice to have a pitcher among the Twins top prospects, even if he still is in the rookie league.