Trade Values: Justin Morneau

Pittsburgh_Pirates10Jim Bowden of ESPN has some trade buzz from the All-Star week, and has the Pittsburgh Pirates included in a rumor. Unlike Bowden’s trade ideas, these are actual rumors based on what Bowden has heard. He says the Minnesota Twins are prepared to trade Justin Morneau, and has the Pirates as one of the teams rumored as a possible destination. He also lists the Yankees and Rays as possibilities.

To get an idea of what Morneau would be worth, let’s take a look at his trade value.

NOTE: The purpose here isn’t to suggest the Pirates are offering this amount for these players.  The purpose is to see the value of these players, using projected values (calculated as [(WAR*$5 M) - Salary]) and prospect trade values. We use our updated values for top 100 prospects, and Victor Wang’s research on prospect values for non-top 100 prospects.

Justin Morneau Trade Value

Year Salary WAR FA Value Surplus Value
2013 $14,000,000 1.2 $6,200,000 ($2,600,000)

Finding the Value: Giving Morneau a 1.2 WAR might be kind. He has a 0.6 WAR a little beyond the half-season mark this year, and had an 0.3 WAR in 2012 and a -0.7 WAR in 2011. He’s got a huge salary, leading to a negative surplus value. The 1.2 WAR would be his max value. He would be owed $4.64 M in the final two months of the year, so the Twins would probably have to pick up all of his remaining salary. The values above are based on a July 31st trade.

What He’s Worth: If the Twins picked up all of his salary, he’d be worth a Grade C pitching prospect. That is only if he comes with the 1.2 WAR value. It’s possible that this could be a Derrek Lee for Aaron Baker situation where you give up a Grade C hitter who has one good tool and probably won’t make it past Double-A.

Analysis: Morneau could be had for pretty much nothing, especially if a team is willing to take on additional salary. He hasn’t been hitting the last few years, and has a .737 OPS this year. He does have platoon splits, with a .777 OPS against right-handers and a .647 OPS against lefties. Last year the split was .902/.569. He’s also left-handed, so the hope would be that he could improve his numbers playing half of his games in PNC Park.

Garrett Jones has been struggling lately against right-handers, which is throwing a wrench into the first base platoon. Morneau is basically the same player as Jones, only he’s limited to first base. If the Pirates were to add Morneau, it would give them one power bat off the bench, whether that’s Jones or Morneau. They could also shift Jones to right field if Jose Tabata doesn’t continue the recent hot hitting. It could be possible that Morneau is just brought in as a power option off the bench.

It seems there are better options out there who wouldn’t cost much in terms of prospects. Personally I think Kendrys Morales would be a better alternative. He also wouldn’t cost a lot in prospects, and would upgrade the first base position, while also making the bench stronger by moving the Jones/Sanchez platoon to the bench. If they didn’t get Morales, then Morneau would be a good Plan B. Here are his splits this year against right-handers, compared to Jones:

Morneau: .283/.348/.429 in 226 AB

Jones: .265/.314/.442 in 249 AB

Morneau is only one month older than Jones, and he’d actually be an upgrade right now with the way Jones has been playing lately. He’s probably not a huge upgrade, and at the least he’d be a bench option and insurance if Jones continues to struggle.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • https://profiles.google.com/113784251521260866973 Mick Kraut

    Somehow Bowden surpressed the urge to opine that NH should offer up Polanco and/or Taillon for Morneau…

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      Lol…Bowden is ‘out there’ that’s for sure.

  • honusty

    Morneau cannot be traded until Saturday. There is a Morneau/Mauer double bobblehead promotion this Friday night.

    • stickyweb

      A bobblehead with 2 heads on it? That would freak me out.

  • https://profiles.google.com/113784251521260866973 Mick Kraut

    On a more serious note, has Morneau resolved his concussion issues?

  • pitwalker18

    I wonder what his stats off the bench are?

    • https://profiles.google.com/116366873579930999690 Thom Kay

      Morneau only has 3 PA’s as a PH over the last two years.

    • honusty

      I would guess that the Jones would go to right and Morneau would play first against righties – which is what 2/3-3/4 of the time. Sanchez/Tabata against lefties. I do not have a lot of faith in Tabata staying hot and injury free.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gary.martinellijr Gary Martinelli Jr

    The biggest upgrade isn’t necessarily the “big bat” that some perceive we need. It comes in where he is still are darn good hitter who gets on base often. He’s a legit #2 hitter who would be a more reliable hitter for when Marte gets those leadoff doubles… or just to get on base for Cutch and Alvarez.

    If Tabata can be a legit leadoff man, having Morneau to bat #2 followed by Cutch, Alvarez, then Marte… our “middle of the lineup bat”, is already on our roster.

    If Tabata can’t, my thinking is to acquire Chris Denorfia who would be a solid leadoff guy. As we can see with Morneau, his value is very little. Denorfia’s can’t be much more.

    • https://profiles.google.com/116366873579930999690 Thom Kay

      Morneau doesn’t get on base more than Marte, and he’s a base clogger. I wouldn’t want him in the first four up. Or at all, really.

      Denorfia is an interesting option, if available. Just hope Tabata makes him duplicative.

      • http://www.facebook.com/gary.martinellijr Gary Martinelli Jr

        Morneau hits .281 with an OBP of .348 against right handers. You’d bat Morneau 2nd when facing a righty… Sanchez vs a lefty. That has nothing to do with Marte. Marte would still bat 1st. I don’t see how that could be a “base clogger”.

    • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

      Aoki’s the guy to fill the #2 slot, if that’s how they go.

      • moose7195

        I really wouldn’t want to send any sort of valuable prospect to Milwaukee. They are still in our division, and seeing a guy like Hanson in a Brewers uniform for the next 7 years while Aoki is long gone after this year or next doesn’t sound like a smart decision by this front office.

        • csnumber23

          There is no way we would give Hanson or any other top prospect for Aoki.

          • moose7195

            Well by Tim’s guide to evaluating prospects. Aoki potentially has years of control til 2018 and he’s on pace for about a 3.8-4.0 WAR this season. And if Rios is supposedly worth a B hitting prospect at a 3.0 WAR and a big contract til 2015, Aoki’s value should be inflated even more than that because he’s making less than 2M and its an interdivisional trade. Hanson was just an example, but any package of B hitting and pitching prospects isn’t gonna be worth a guy that we wont need in 2015

            • csnumber23

              Moose7195, I agree completely. I wouldn’t mind seeing Aoki for a lower prospect, maybe 20-30 range but no higher. I think Polanco will be ready by June of next year. I can’t wait to see that outfield of Marte, MCutchen and Polanco.

    • csnumber23

      Tabata can not lead off for us. I don’t expect him to even be in the lineup full time after August 1st. He is not the answer and his little hot streak that includes several weak ground balls in the infield to boost his average, does not do much for me. Plus he is not a good defensive outfielder and he gets hurt all the time.

      • stickyweb

        Every leadoff guy gets infield hits and bunt singles. No need to penalize only Tabby for them. His injury concerns are very legitimate though.

  • moose7195

    Morneau is hitting .167 in July so I’m not sure if he’s been playing better than Jones lately. Still, I agree that he would be a good plan B for 1B if we don’t get Morales

    • moose7195

      However his .311 avg and 39 RBIs with RISP could make him worth his weight in gold if he hits that way in Pittsburgh

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.sweetnich Joe Sweetnich

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if Jones, who was pushed out of Minnesota by a very productive Justin Morneau years ago, gets pushed off first base in Pittsburgh by the same person.

  • https://profiles.google.com/108173335553778121748 Scott Richards

    I heard Chris Sale from the White Sox might be available today? What is his trade value? Or is there no chance he is going to be available? Under control until 2018. Team friendly contract? What would he cost?

    • moose7195

      I heard quite the opposite. Chris Sale and Paul Konerko were considered the only unavailable White Sox last I heard

    • csnumber23

      He would cost Taillon and another B or higher prospect like Bell. I really don’t want to trade Taillon at all but I would for Sale. He is a proven ace already and is signed at a reasonable price thru 2019.

      • https://profiles.google.com/108173335553778121748 Scott Richards

        Would it be Tailon and Polanco? He has a very nice contract….perfect fit for Buccos….We would lose Polanco in RF next year with this trade..(I’d be tempted and would it take him off the “No trade” list?

        • csnumber23

          I would not give Taillon and Polanco for anyone, including Stanton. I would give Taillon and Bell for Sale but that is as far as I would go. I really don’t want to see Taillon go anywhere as I think he will be better than Cole down the road but Sale is worth it.

          Obviously I’m not the GM so who knows what will happen. I’m just speaking on my opinions.

          • https://profiles.google.com/108173335553778121748 Scott Richards

            I’d consider it with the amount of control the team would have….I would not do the Tailon and Polanco for Stanton…My opinion as well. Let’s go bucs!

  • csnumber23

    I agree with Tim, Morneau is a good plan B. I would prefer Morales but I think Morneau would be a nice upgrade on Jones. He has had some huge years before the concussions. He is not having a great year but is healthy. A change of scenery to the NL and PNC park could be the spark he needs. He won’t cost much at all in terms of prospects so I am all for it if we can’t get Morales.

    • https://profiles.google.com/108173335553778121748 Scott Richards

      I’d go with Morales…

  • justin14

    I would have to think Morneau starts over both Jones and Sanchez and would have to think one of Jones and Sanchez would be traded or released. We wouldn’t keep all three. Jones has more upside as a good bench off the bat and can play outfield if needed so I would think if Morneau becomes a Pirate, Sanchez would be gone

    • csnumber23

      Justin14, I think it would depend on if this was the only trade. If so, I think Snider would be the one gone. I think they would platoon Jones and Tabata in right and play Sanchez still some against lefties at first. If they also were to acquire a right fielder then Sanchez or Jones would definitely be gone. I also assume Inge will get a pink slip bey August 1st.

      • impliedi

        I’ve got some bad news for you, I’m thinking that Inge sticks with the Pirates all year. Walker’s injury, and the fact that the Pirates don’t really have another guy to spell Alvarez at 3rd (I don’t consider Josh Harrison to be that guy), are going to keep Inge on this team for a while….unless they pick up a 1B/3B guy in a trade instead of Morneau (or if they go after someone like a Cody Ransom as a straight Inge replacement).

        • csnumber23

          I don’t think there is any way Inge stays on the team. He does nothing to help other than be a good clubhouse guy. I would rather see Harrison on the field any day over Inge. Not that I want to see Harrison in there but I can’t stomach seeing Inge on the field in any capacity.

    • impliedi

      I think Sanchez would be the least likely to be cut loose in that scenario. If the Pirates were to acquire Morneau, I would think that Morneau and Sanchez become the 1B platoon and Jones becomes the back-up RF, with Travis Snider getting the axe.

      • stickyweb

        Agreed, no way Sanchez gets cut as one of the few Bucs that can hit LHP. And remeber he can fill in at 3B in a pinch.

  • jaygray007

    It all depends on how he looks to scouts. The stats sure aren’t quite there (but are okay), but maybe he looks good or maybe Target Field is in his head or maybe playing for the twins has him down.

    I must admit that it’d be kind of cool to get Justin Morneau, even if he is just a shadow of his former self.

    • https://profiles.google.com/108173335553778121748 Scott Richards

      Shadow.

  • slendon64

    Morneau is a beast with runners in scoring position ( .791 OPS). Especially with the bases loaded (1.552 OPS) Yeah – 8 for 11. This guy thrives in the clutch. God knows we have nothing like this off our bench currently.

  • PiratesFan1981

    To be honest,I think people are wanting Morneau to be this lighting in a bottle guy. But I honestly believe he will be another sad trade that bucs make. Much like gabby Sanchez, snider, and some others. Kendry morales does seem like a guy people want too. I think Morneau and morales are the same for the most part while Morneau best years are behind him. In my eyes, if I had to choose one, I would ask for are return policy. Both players are streaky much like what the bucs have now. There really is no upgrade and FYI, numbers can be misleading.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gary.martinellijr Gary Martinelli Jr

      Not true at all. Against right handers he has a .283 avg with an OBP of .348. He’s the perfect #2 hitter in this situation. He should be Plan A, ahead of Morales because Morales doesn’t fill a need. He hits well against lefties… we already have that with Sanchez… and Sanchez is better. Against righties, Morneau is better than Morales.