With a little more than 24 hours to go before the MLB non-waiver trade deadline, we’re bound to get a lot of rumors and innuendo sent our way from both reliable and unreliable sources. I’ll let you be the judge over how reliable this latest rumor is.
According to the always delightful Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants are all inquiring into the availability of Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau.
Let’s think about this for a second. Remember how everyone has been talking about how poorly Adrian Gonzalez has been playing this year? Well, Gonzalez has been slightly better than the injury-riddled Canadian, as his .335 wOBA to Morneau’s .331 wOBA will attest. Among regular first basemen, Morneau ranks slightly behind the middle of the pack in most offensive categories, and he’s still owed $14 million in 2013, the final year of his contract.
I can’t imagine a deal getting done unless the Twins show a willingness to pick up a significant portion of that remaining salary, and even then, I’m not so sure that Morneau offers either the Giants or Blue Jays a significant upgrade in any area that they truly need. So far this season, almost all of Morneau’s offensive contributions have come against right handed pitching.
As bad as he’s been over the last couple seasons, Adam Lind’s faults tend to be similar to Morneau’s: he can hit righties for power, but simply doesn’t show up against southpaws. With Edwin Encarnacion bashing around everyone, and locked into a newly signed contract, where would Morneau even play once Lind, who’s currently spending some time on the Disabled List with injury concerns of his own, comes back to the lineup?
Even if you want to be incredibly cynical and consider Morneau’s birthplace as a factor in the Blue Jays’ attraction, it’s doubtful given the media saturation with the Brett Lawrie phenomenon that another Canadian on the only Canadian baseball team is going to increase anything other than the size of maple boners from people who are already buying tickets and watching baseball on television in Toronto.
As for the Giants, the timing of such a trade would only be humorous to Dodgers fans and masochists. With Aubrey Huff’s ridiculous contract set to come off the books, the last thing San Francisco needs is another aging first baseman past his prime who should only really be platooning at this point to come in and get overpaid to steal playing time from the young left-handed hitting Brandon Belt.
However, considering Belt’s reverse splits this season, such a trade could make sense for this year only, but again, what would the team do moving forward with Morneau next season?
Just look at Morneau’s split, and try to justify why a team that isn’t absolutely guaranteed of a playoff spot would be interested in acquiring him:
- vs. LHP: 114 PA, 2 HR, .202 OBP, .250 SLG, .452 OPS, .199 wOBA, 19 wRC+.
- vs. RHP: 221 PA, 11 HR, .385 OBP, .571 SLG, .956 OPS, .400 wOBA, 156 wRC+.
That’s all well, and good, but if you’re looking to get such one dimensional production, your money and prospects can be spent elsewhere at far less of a price. Why not talk to the Seattle Mariners about John Jaso, or discuss a trade with the Chicago Cubs about Bryan LaHair. Both teams are attached to the “seller” label at the deadline, and both players offer just as good production against righties as Morneau without the incredible drop off against southpaws.
The only organizations interested in acquiring Morneau should be the type of teams that are atop their divisions right now, and have a spot to fill in their lineup at first base or designated hitter against right handed pitchers. The Los Angeles Dodgers are just such a team as the well-documented struggles of their current first baseman, James Loney, suggests.
If we look at positional numbers, the Dodgers have the worst first basemen in the National League against right handed pitching. Armed with an upcoming deal with a regional sports television network that’s expected to put a ton of money in the pockets of the new ownership group, the team has already shown a willingness to take on salary with the addition of Hanley Ramirez.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 30, 2012
If it’s true that the Twins are only looking to acquire a Major League ready pitcher, you would have to think that this eliminates the Toronto Blue Jays from the discussion as well.