Tag: Justin Morneau

Morneau Becomes 14th Active Player to Homer Against All 30 Teams

Chicago White Sox first baseman Justin Morneau became the 14th active player to hit a home run against each of MLB‘s 30 franchises, finally crossing his longtime former team (the Minnesota Twins) off the list during Saturday’s 6-5 victory, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Morneau began his career in Minnesota, playing for the Twins from 2003 until mid-2013, with his tenure notably including an MVP award in 2006 and a second-place finish in 2008.

Even after a few years spent traveling around the league, Morneau has still hit 90.9 percent (221 of 243) of his career home runs in a Minnesota uniform.

Between interleague play and his solid 2014 campaign for the Colorado Rockies, the aging slugger managed to cross all the National League teams off his home run list, leaving only his former squad as unfinished business.

That came to an end Saturday night, with Morneau hitting a solo shot off Twins pitcher Tommy Milone in the sixth inning to extend Chicago’s lead to 4-1.

Morneau also had an RBI double earlier in the game, but his strong performance was almost rendered meaningless when the Twins rallied for four runs between the seventh and eighth innings, turning the 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 lead.

However, the White Sox bounced back to tie the game in the ninth inning and then plated the winning run in the 10th. 

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Justin Morneau Reportedly Signs 2-Year Contract with Colorado Rockies

Four-time All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau reportedly agreed to a two-year deal to join the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported the news, tipping the hat to Troy Renck of The Denver Post, who reported that the two sides were closing in on an agreement earlier in the day:

The $13 million salary is a decent bargain for Colorado, considering Morneau won the 2006 American League MVP award as a member of the Minnesota Twins.

However, the 32-year-old veteran has struggled over the past several seasons, with injuries being a big reason why.

Morneau played just 150 total games between the 2010 and 2011 campaigns, struggling in that span due to a concussion he suffered and the lingering post-concussion symptoms thereafter. In the two years since, Morneau has yet to return to being an elite MLB player.

An Aug. 31 trade saw Morneau shipped to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he played 25 games and had a subsequent shot to play in the postseason.

Unfortunately, Pittsburgh was eliminated 3-2 in the NLDS by the NL Central division rival St. Louis Cardinals.

The swap was made mostly because Morneau was in the final season of a six-year, $80 million contract. He will be taking a significant pay cut with the Rockies, but that was to be expected after his drop off in production over the last few years.

It is a fresh start for Morneau, though, and it comes in a hitter-friendly park at Coors Field.

Todd Helton’s retirement sets up an experienced player like Morneau as a logical fill-in at first base for the time being.

Morneau did play 152 games in 2013—his most in a single season since 2008—but batted .259 with 17 home runs, 77 RBI and a career-worst 110 strikeouts.

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Seattle Mariners: First Basemen Team Should Pursue This Winter

Contrary to what it may seem, the Seattle Mariners are a mess at first base. 

Justin Smoak was supposed to be Seattle’s first baseman of the future, but has been wildly inconsistent, even getting demoted to Triple-A for stints in each of the past two seasons. The relegations have helped, but he hasn’t made great strides in his offensive game. 

Dustin Ackley can play first, but may need to share time at second base or in the outfield next season, depending on who Seattle can sign in free agency. He’s also been disappointing and may be better suited for a utility role until further notice. 

First round pick D.J. Peterson will probably eventually be making the transition from third to first, but is in Single-A and won’t be seen in Seattle for at least another season or two.

Kendrys Morales is the ideal first baseman for the Mariners, although he was mostly a DH. He’s already said he won’t accept Seattle’s qualifying offer, but that doesn’t mean Morales won’t play for the Mariners next season. He’ll be tough to bring back, considering the limited power on the market, but his familiarity with the club and the organization could help Jack Zduriencik’s chances of bringing him back, or hurt them depending on their relationship.

Based on their career-long body of work and estimated salaries, here are free agent first basemen the Mariners should target this winter.

All stats via ESPN.com and baseball-reference.com.

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Is Justin Morneau the Missing Piece to Put the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Top?

If you thought the Pittsburgh Pirates were done making deals after trading for Marlon Byrd and John Buck, think again.

As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported, the Bucs have traded for Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau.

The Pirates are looking to capitalize on their success this season by going all-in. The team is not content to win a wild-card spot or an NL Central crown, but is instead looking for a World Series ring.

At 78-56 going into Saturday, Pittsburgh is tied for the NL Central lead with the St. Louis Cardinals. This is the most success the Bucs have enjoyed in the last two decades, and they’re looking to go as far as possible this year before their window of opportunity closes.

Morneau was considered among the top first basemen on the market this year, and by adding him, the Bucs address one of their biggest needs.

According to Mike Axisa of CBS Sports, the team’s first basemen have struggled all year, but Morneau can help them:

The Pirates have gotten a .260/.336/.432 (99 OPS+) batting line and 16 homers out of their first baseman this year, with Gaby Sanchez and Garrett Jones sharing a platoon. The righty hitting Sanchez can still platoon with the lefty hitting Morneau while Jones sees time in the outfield. With rosters set to expand on September 1, there is plenty of room for all three guys.

Morneau has hit righties well this season, posting a .281/.343/.488 line with 15 homers in 342 at-bats, while Sanchez has hit .326/.440/.539 in 89 at-bats against lefties. Morneau is more powerful than either Sanchez or Jones, and he has been on fire as of late, as noted by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

With first base shored up, the team now has a complete lineup to back its tremendous pitching staff.

The Pirates rank second in MLB in ERA at 3.17. Unfortunately, they rank 22nd in runs scored and have been unable to take advantage of their fantastic pitching to post a better record.

The Pirates are obviously excited to have an experienced veteran like Morneau because they believe he can take them to the next level. Pitcher Mark Melancon is definitely looking forward to having him on the team.

With the additions of Morneau, Byrd and Buck, the Pirates have addressed their main offensive issues and look like serious contenders to make a deep run in the postseason.

The Bucs are obviously trying to win right now, and adding Morneau helps. He could easily be the difference-maker that helps the team not only win the NL Central crown, but also make it to the World Series.

If you weren’t taking the Pirates seriously before, it’s time to start.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Hottest Weekend Waiver Wire Buzz

As of August 30, 16 major league teams either hold a playoff spot or are within 6.5 games of one and could be looking to improve their playoff chances by making a waiver-wire deal by tomorrow’s deadline to add players who will be eligible for a playoff roster.

Eleven August trades have happened thus far:

  • The Texas Rangers acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the Chicago White Sox for prospect Leury Garcia.
  • The Kansas City Royals picked up utility infielder Jamey Carroll from the Minnesota Twins and utility man Emilio Bonifacio from the Toronto Blue Jays, both for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays acquired lefty reliever Wesley Wright from the Houston Astros for cash considerations.
  • The Washington Nationals acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.
  • The Oakland A’s acquired catcher Kurt Suzuki and cash from the Nationals for minor league pitcher Dakota Bacus.
  • The Rays acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Nationals for a player to be named later or cash considerations. 
  • The Pirates acquired catcher John Buck and outfielder Marlon Byrd from the Mets for minor league second baseman Dilson Herrera and reliever Vic Black.
  • The Indians acquired outfielder Jason Kubel from the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
  • The Cardinals acquired reliever John Axford from the Brewers for a player to be named later.
  • The Orioles acquired first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse from the Mariners for outfielder Xavier Avery.

With a few trade possibilities still lingering, here’s all of the latest waiver-trade buzz from around the league.


Nationals Resurgence Taking Dan Haren Off the Market?

As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported earlier in the week, there hasn’t been strong interest in Nationals right-hander Dan Haren, who has a 2.53 ERA in his past 53 innings pitched. But could it be that the Nats just aren’t that interested in dealing him now that they’ve closed to within striking distance of a wild-card spot. 

With 14 wins in their past 19 games, the Nats have improved their record to 68-65. While they’ve gained just 2.5 games in the wild-card standings over that span—they’ve moved from nine back to six-and-a-half back—it’s close enough to where it’s a realistic possibility. After failing to live up to very lofty expectations all season long, trading one of their best starting pitchers at a time when things are finally clicking on all cylinders just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.


Red Sox Could Add Bullpen Help

Tim Britton of the Providence Journal notes that the Red Sox could use another right-handed reliever. While manager John Farrell says he’s not too concerned—Ryan Dempster, who was the Cubs‘ closer from 2005-2007, will likely move to the bullpen once Clay Buchholz returns from the disabled list—it sounds like he’s at least open to a deal if one made sense. 

Junichi Tazawa, who is currently the lone right-handed setup man in the Sox’s bullpen—Matt Thornton and Craig Breslow are the primary left-handed options—has had a terrific season (2.75 ERA, 59 IP, 9 BB, 63 K, 20 holds) but has allowed runs in consecutive appearances.

The 27-year-old has bounced back from bad outings before, which is why he’s starting to be considered one of the top setup men in the league, but it would benefit the Sox to have another right-hander late in games to face tough right-handed hitters.

One option could be Matt Lindstrom (pictured), who would be the third White Sox player to be acquired by Boston this season—Thornton and Jake Peavy are the others. The 33-year-old right-hander, who cleared waivers earlier in the month, is holding right-handed batters to a .588 OPS. Overall, he has a 3.04 ERA with 17 holds and only one homer allowed in 53.1 innings.  


The Justin Morneau Watch

It appeared that Justin Morneau (pictured) was giving the Twins a very nice going-away present in the form of an increased trade value after he started the month with 27 hits in 89 at-bats (.303 BA), including seven homers, seven doubles and 19 runs batted in. That value might have deflated some, however, during his current 1-for-23 slump. 

Small samples usually don’t sway a player’s value one way or another during the season, but when a team is making a trade specifically for a small sample of the season—in this case, it would be about 30 games and possibly the playoffs—it would make sense to acquire a player when he’s on a hot streak. 

On the other hand, Morneau’s price tag could’ve dropped just enough for a team like the Pirates to swoop in and pick him up for the stretch run without giving up any prospect of significance or taking on much of his remaining salary. The Bucs have shown interest in the past, and Rosenthal recently tweeted that they may be one team that is currently interested. 

Two teams that may have been interested—Baltimore and Cleveland—can probably be ruled out of the mix after they recently acquired Michael Morse and Jason Kubel, respectively. 


Other Last-Minute Trade Possibilities

A few interesting names that haven’t popped up in the rumor mill, mostly due to these players being on the disabled list until recently, are Angels starter Jason Vargas and Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez. 

Vargas, who has made four starts since returning from a disabled list stint due to a blood clot in his armpit, has allowed just one earned run over 13.1 innings over his past two starts. The 30-year-old lefty was placed on waivers on August 19, according to Rosenthal, but there was no word on whether he cleared or not. 

The likelihood is that he did pass through unclaimed, given his salary (still due close to $1.5 million) and the fact that he didn’t pitch well in his first two outings (9.2 IP, 7 ER) after returning. If this is the case, contending teams looking to upgrade their rotation will be interested in striking a deal by tomorrow, especially after what he did versus the Rays on Thursday (7 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K).

In the case of Gutierrez, there is no question that he is a huge injury risk, so giving up any prospect or taking on any salary will be viewed as a questionable decision. But in between all the time he’s spent on the disabled list this season, he’s been a very productive hitter and has always been good against left-handed pitching (.833 career OPS vs LHP), in particular. His three-hit performance on Thursday, which included his second homer in two games, could open some eyes. 

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported in early July that teams were calling about the 30-year-old, although he was out at the time and ended up missing more than two months with a hamstring injury before returning on Monday.

If a contending team is willing to take a chance and the M’s will pick up some of the remaining $1.5 million in salary (approximately $1 million in 2013, $500K buyout in 2014), Gutierrez could be a difference-maker for a contending team down the stretch.  

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Minnesota Twins: Are Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau Headed for the Hall of Fame?

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are two players who will be prominently featured in the history of the Minnesota Twins. Each has won an MVP award, but together they’ve been vital cogs in what has been a banner period for the franchise, with six division championships in nine years during the 2000s.

Despite their record of success together, nobody knows if the two will someday shake hands in Cooperstown or if they’ll both be members of the Twins Hall of Fame (which I assume will someday be added onto a wing of Target Field.)

However, the two players’ careers have certainly headed in different directions.

Mauer has taken the role of the face of the franchise after signing his massive contract extension prior to the 2010 season. Despite the bickering of some fans, he has mostly performed at a high level, with the exception of the 2011 season, which was largely lost due to injury.

As a catcher, Mauer has won three American League batting championships. There are few players who can take claim to three batting titles, but nobody can say they did it behind the plate in the AL, as Mauer was the first to even win one, let alone three.

Mauer’s defense has propelled him to win three Gold Gloves. That’s a big reason why despite the bilateral leg weakness and a recent concussion, the Twins refuse to move him from behind the plate.

When it comes to catchers, it simply doesn’t get any better than the St. Paul product in his 10 seasons with the Twins.

We know we’ll see Mauer enshrined in the Hall of Fame someday, but what about his partner in crime, Morneau?

Morneau got off to a slow start in his first full season in 2005, but he took off after the midway point of the 2006 season, which saw him win his only MVP award to date. Winning one is an incredible accomplishment for any player, but it’s staggering when you consider that he could have been a three-time winner.

The Twins overachieved in the 2008 season, and Morneau was a big reason for that, hitting .300 with 23 home runs and 129 RBI. An MVP award was possible, but the team fell to the Chicago White Sox in a one-game playoff for the division championship, and the nation fell in love with Dustin “The Little Guy” Pedroia so much that voters leaned toward the Boston Red Sox’s second baseman.

Morneau also was on his way to an incredible season in 2010 with a career-high .345 average and 18 home runs in his first 81 games of the season, but that’s where his turn for the worse began after taking a knee to the head from Aaron Hill on July 7.

Before the injury, Morneau enjoyed a stretch between 2006 and 2010 where he dominated the American League and had a line of .298/.372/.528 with 136 home runs and 526 RBI. Since his return in 2011, those numbers have declined to .257/.318/.411 with 38 home runs and 79 RBI in roughly three seasons.

Does a five-year stretch get a player into the Hall of Fame? I don’t believe so.

If it were up to me, I would put Morneau in the Hall of Pretty Good. He was a leader for the Twins and will probably have his No. 33 jersey retired by the club someday, but he’s an example of what could have been if it weren’t for his laundry list of injuries.

Chris Schad is a Minnesota Twins Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. His work has also been featured on the Yahoo! Contributor Network and Pro Football Spot. You can follow Chris on Twitter @crishad.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Updating All of the Hottest Waiver-Trade Buzz

As of Aug. 23, 15 major league teams either hold a playoff spot or are within seven games of one and could be looking to improve their playoff chances by making a waiver-wire deal in the near future.

Seven August trades have happened thus far:

  • The Texas Rangers acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the Chicago White Sox for prospect Leury Garcia.
  • The Kansas City Royals picked up utility infielder Jamey Carroll from the Minnesota Twins and utility man Emilio Bonifacio from the Toronto Blue Jays, both for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays acquired lefty Wesley Wright from the Houston Astros for cash considerations.
  • The Washington Nationals acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.
  • The Oakland A’s acquired catcher Kurt Suzuki and cash from the Nationals for minor league pitcher Dakota Bacus.
  • The Rays acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Nationals for a player to be named later or cash considerations. 

With plenty of trade possibilities still lingering, here’s all of the latest waiver-trade buzz from around the league.


Will the St. Louis Cardinals Seek a Starting Pitcher?

With Jake Westbrook landing on the disabled list with a strained lower back, the Cardinals are set to go with rookie left-hander Tyler Lyons in his place on Monday. Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, two of the better pitching prospects in baseball, are in the bullpen and could also be options down the stretch. 

Ideally, they wouldn’t have to rely on young and inexperienced pitchers, especially during a time of the season when they’re normally done throwing a baseball for awhile—the minor league season ends in early September.

General manager John Mozeliak has said that a waiver-wire acquisition would be difficult, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but that doesn’t mean he’s not looking. Former Cardinal and current Nationals starter Dan Haren has cleared waivers, along with Houston Astros lefty Erik Bedard.

I recently wrote about which of those two would be a better fit for the Texas Rangers with Alexi Ogando landing on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Westbrook’s disabled-list stint could put St. Louis in the same dilemma. The Cardinals have enough at the top of the rotation but could find it hard to hold onto a playoff spot or at least the more coveted position of going straight to the division series as opposed to a one-game Wild Card. 

Two other veterans who could hit the waiver wire later this month are Los Angeles Angels lefty Jason Vargas and Seatle Mariners lefty Joe Saunders. Both have a high enough salary that it’s likely each would clear waivers or at least drop to a contending team on the waiver wire in need of a starting pitcher.


Late-Inning Relief Options Dwindle with Betancourt Injury 

Colorado Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt (pictured) was activated from the disabled list last Saturday, recorded his first save in over a month on Tuesday, blew a save on Wednesday, was placed on revocable waivers on Thursday, blew another save later that day and then landed back on the disabled list Friday with an elbow injury that could require Tommy John surgery. 

Just like that, a top late-inning option for contending teams is off the board. White Sox right-hander Matt Lindstrom remains the lone reliever who has been reported to have cleared waivers, while there’s a chance several others could join him later this month. 

Of the soon-to-be free-agent relievers on non-contending teams, Milwaukee Brewers lefty Mike Gonzalez, Cubs closer Kevin Gregg, New York Mets closer LaTroy Hawkins and Mariners lefty Oliver Perez are the most likely to draw interest if made available.


Cleveland Indians Exploring Deals on the Waiver Wire

The surprising Indians, who are still hanging around in the playoff race, are considering all options to upgrade their roster down the stretch. According to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti is open to pursuing an upgrade on the waiver wire if the right opportunity presented itself. 

The Tribe could look to upgrade an offense that has a .649 OPS in August with just about every hitter struggling aside from Ryan Raburn (7-for-26, 4 HR), Yan Gomes (.844 OPS in 13 games) and Nick Swisher (.720 OPS in 20 games). 

Adam Dunn of the White Sox and Justin Morneau of the Twins are the biggest-name hitters among those who have cleared waivers, although Dunn’s $15 million salary for 2014 could present an obstacle. If the Mets were to place Marlon Byrd on waivers, he’d be a potential upgrade over light-hitting Drew Stubbs in right field.

The rotation could also use a reinforcement with Scott Kazmir struggling over his past two starts and rookie Danny Salazar already at a career high in innings pitched after several injury-plagued seasons.  

Morneau’s Value Rising, but Are Trade Chances Decreasing?

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau (pictured) has already cleared waivers, and he has not cooled off one bit during an August hot streak in which he’s posted a .928 OPS with seven homers and eight multi-hit games. Still, general manager Terry Ryan told Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune that he didn’t see anything happening at this point. 

He didn’t rule out the possibility, of course, but Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports is hearing that money is the biggest obstacle. If that’s the case, the Twins might not be willing to eat enough of Morneau’s remaining salary, which is approximately $3 million. 

The Baltimore Orioles, who have gone with Ryan Flaherty, Steve Pearce, Brian Roberts and Danny Valencia at the designated hitter spot over the past week, still appear to be a fit, as do the Indians. 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Updating All the Hottest Waiver-Trade Buzz

As of Aug. 16, 15 major league teams either hold a playoff spot or are within 8.5 games of one and could be looking to improve their playoff chances by making a waiver-wire deal in the near future.

Four trades have happened thus far.

The Rangers acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the White Sox for prospect Leury Garcia. The Royals picked up utility infielder Jamey Carroll from Minnesota and utilityman Emilio Bonifacio from Toronto, both for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The Rays, meanwhile, acquired lefty Wesley Wright from the Astros for cash considerations. 

With plenty of trade possibilities still lingering, here’s all the latest waiver-trade buzz from around the league.


Dan Haren Clears Waivers Amid Return to Top Form

After it was reported that Nationals right-hander Dan Haren was placed on waivers last week, I wrote that he had a good chance of clearing because of his salary and early-season struggles. Still, he could draw interest because of how well he had been pitching of late.

A week later, the 32-year-old has officially cleared waivers. He has made two more terrific starts, giving him a 2.30 ERA with only 29 hits allowed, 10 walks and 42 strikeouts in his last 43 innings since returning from the disabled list (seven starts). Haren was on the verge of being released before he turned things around. 

The 59-61 Nationals don’t have a ton of starting pitching depth to fill Haren’s spot. That said, I’m certain they’d fill the gap with whatever journeyman they can find off the Triple-A scrap heap if a team is willing to eat Haren’s remaining salary (approximately $3.25 million) and offer up a midlevel prospect. 

For a team like the Dodgers, who could use an upgrade at the back of the rotation after Chris Capuano got knocked around in his last two starts, or the Indians, who are just 3.5 games out of a playoff spot, Haren could be a nice pickup down the stretch.

A reunion with the Oakland A’s, who he played with from 2005-2007, could also make sense. 


Who Needs Justin Morneau? 

As expected, Twins first baseman and former AL MVP Justin Morneau (pictured) has cleared waivers. Now the Twins will try to find the best deal for the 32-year-old and decide if it’s worth trading him away unceremoniously after 11 mostly very good seasons with the team.

If his August numbers are any indication, the acquiring team would be getting Morneau at just the right time. He is 18-for-66 with six homers, four doubles and 15 RBI this month. He had a .712 OPS with eight homers in 98 games prior to this current hot streak.

The Rays could be interested in acquiring another bat, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted that a right-handed hitter such as Paul Konerko, who was placed on waivers a few days ago, or Delmon Young, who became a free agent recently, would make more sense. 

A team that could be the best match is Baltimore, which has been going with rookie Henry Urrutia (.612 OPS, 0 BB, 9 K in 21 games) at the designated hitter spot. Wilson Betemit, who is due back soon from the disabled list, will likely take over for Urrutia, but a red-hot Morneau down the stretch might be preferred. 

Of the National League contenders, the Pirates could move Garrett Jones to right field if newly promoted rookie Andrew Lambo doesn’t produce right away, opening up first base for Morneau. Lambo, who had 31 homers between Double-A and Triple-A, is 1-for-8 with a double since his call-up.


Astros Could Deal Lone Veteran Remaining

The Astros have one player left on their roster making at least $1 million this season, and there’s a good chance that the number becomes zero before the end of the month. Lefty Erik Bedard (pictured), who signed a one-year, $1.15 million deal this past offseason, has pitched well enough to draw some trade interest. 

In the same tweet mentioning that Haren passed through waivers unclaimed, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the 34-year-old Bedard had also cleared. Prior to a rough outing on Thursday, Bedard had a 3.56 ERA with 42 walks and 82 strikeouts in his last 93.2 innings pitched. 

The Rangers, who could be without Alexi Ogando if he’s forced to miss time with an inflamed nerve in his shoulder, could be interested in Bedard. They’ve already completed one deal with Houston this month, acquiring non-roster lefty Travis Blackley for cash considerations.

Since the start of the season, the Astros have traded away three of four players making a seven-figure salary in 2013.

Bud Norris ($3 million) was traded to Baltimore, Jose Veras ($1.85 million) was dealt to Detroit and Wesley Wright ($1 million) went to Tampa Bay. Catcher Jason Castro, who will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason, is currently projected to be the team’s highest-paid player in 2014.


Braves Seek Second Base Help 

With Dan Uggla out at least another 12 days recovering from LASIK eye surgery and Tyler Pastornicky out for the season with a torn knee ligament, Mark Bowman of MLB.com is reporting that the Braves are searching the waiver wire for some second base help. 

The potential list of options has thinned out greatly over the past couple of weeks, however.

The Royals recently acquired two backup types, Jamey Carroll and Emilio Bonifacio, who could play second base. Chase Utley agreed to a contract extension with the Phillies. Rickie Weeks, meanwhile, suffered a season-ending hamstring injury.

If it’s just temporary help they’re seeking, there are a few options readily available that could be an upgrade over Paul Janish and Phil Gosselin.

One intriguing match could be Brendan Ryan (pictured) of the Mariners, who has already cleared waivers. He would allow the Braves to put two of the best defensive shortstops in baseball on the field at the same time. Andrelton Simmons is already considered by many to be the top defender in baseball. Ryan has also been a popular choice in recent years.

The 31-year-old Ryan hasn’t played second base since 2009, though, and he hasn’t hit at all this season. It might not be worth the trouble to acquire him unless they believe he’s an upgrade over Janish as the starter now and as Uggla’s backup when he returns. 

They have such a big lead in the division that acquiring temporary help is nearly pointless otherwise. 


Elvis Andrus Clearing Waivers Is Not Big News 

Teams don’t have to place a player on waivers, so it’s probably worth mentioning whenever any player is. But in most cases, they like to keep their options open just in case a team approaches them with an offer they can’t refuse. 

So when a big name like Elvis Andrus (pictured) passes through waivers, we shouldn’t completely write it off as totally irrelevant. But it’s pretty close.

It’s doubtful that the 24-year-old, who already has two All-Star selections on his resume, is going anywhere. The fact that his contract will pay him either $14 million or $15 million per season from 2015-2022, combined with his poor season at the plate, ensured he wasn’t getting claimed.

The Rangers do employ the top prospect in baseball, shortstop Jurickson Profar, who is already in the majors and could probably give the team more offense than Andrus right now. But even if they wanted to trade Andrus, and they had teams interested in acquiring him and his contract, they’d be selling low on a very talented player whom they expected big things from now and in the future. 


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An Early Look at Top 6 Midseason Position Player Trade Deadline Candidates

I’ve recently taken a look at some starting pitchers and relievers who could be available by midseason, assuming their team is out of contention or just has a lot of depth and is looking to upgrade in another area.

The names mentioned weren’t huge names, mostly because teams we assume will be bad typically don’t have deep pitching staffs. When it comes to position players, though, there are several names that will not only be fun to talk about as the rumor mill gets going, but that could also make a lot of sense for teams to move before August 1.

Hunter Pence, Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino were three of the biggest names changing teams in July 2012. Here are the top six players most likely to be available this July.

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Justin Morneau Would "Love" to Stay a Twin, but Does Management Agree?

Justin Morneau, in the final year of a six-year, $80 million deal that will pay him $19 million this season, will likely be shopped around if the Twins fall out of contention in the AL Central.

The 2006 AL MVP told 1500ESPN.com’s Judd Zulgad that he hopes to remain with the Twins this season, and beyond…but with a hitch. 

“If it looks like there’s a chance we’re going to win, I’d love to stay here. I’ve been here my whole career and this where I hope to be in the future. It’s hard to say otherwise. But sometimes those decisions aren’t yours. So we’ll see. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

Morneau also told Zulgad that he was able to go full speed with his offseason workouts and didn’t have to worry as much about his health as he did a year ago when he was coming off multiple surgeries and dealing with the concussion issues that almost forced him to retire.

2013 is going to be a struggle for the Twins, who dealed outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere for young pitching. They’re hoping the veterans they brought in (Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia) can help improve a pitching staff that finished with a 4.77 ERA (second worst in the American League) and was the only MLB team to not record 1000 (943) strikeouts.

Despite that, Morneau has that spring training optimism and hopes the Twins will be buyers instead of sellers come July.

“So until that comes along and it’s proved otherwise, we plan on being a team that’s going to battle and be in it in July and hopefully adding to this team whatever we need.”

The Twins have flirted with the 100-loss mark the last two seasons, losing 99 in 2011 and 96 last year. Minnesota hasn’t lost 100 games in a season since 1982: a young team that featured Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Frank Viola, Tim Laudner and Tom Brunansky…all in their early 20s and integral cogs of the team that would win the World Series five seasons later.

The Twins also traded fan-favorite Roy Smalley to the New York Yankees for prospects (including Greg Gagne) and drafted Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett with the third overall pick in the MLB Entry Draft.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Morneau plays the part of Smalley this year.

Morneau hit .267 with 19 home runs and 77 RBI in 134 games last season. He was being shopped around the league, and appeared to be on his way to the Los Angeles Dodgers before they made the mega-deal with the Boston Red Sox involving Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and former Twin Nick Punto.

It also doesn’t bode well with Morneau with the Twins are still appearing committed to the 24-year-old Chris Parmelee, who hit .338/.457/.645 with 17 homers in 64 games at Triple-A Rochester last season. Parmelee is expected to be the starting right fielder for the Twins to get big league at-bats until the first base position is vacant, either by trade or Morneau leaving next winter via free agency.

Morneau also says the he and the Twins haven’t talked extension, which is good considering his recent injury history.

“I think from their side and my side they want to see where I’m at. The last few years there have been some difficulties with all the injuries and all that stuff. It’s not something I’m really interested in doing during the season because it can become a distraction. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I’ve never been in this situation before. Obviously a young player you make the team and you try to make it to arbitration and get some stability. And for me, I was locked up after my first year of arbitration. So it’s something I haven’t experienced before but it doesn’t change anything. The goal is still to win.” 

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