Prior to the trade deadline we heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates had expressed interest in Justin Morneau, but that the Minnesota Twins were planning on shopping him in August. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Morneau has cleared waivers, which allows him to be traded to any team without restrictions.
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) August 14, 2013
The key here is that the Twins can now negotiate with any team for Morneau, rather than just the one team that claims him on waivers. He still doesn’t have a lot of trade value right now, as he is owed $3.5 M for the remainder of the year and is only a bench player. The Twins would have to pick up some salary to get any type of return, or find someone willing to take his entire salary on for the remainder of the season. If there was a team that was willing to do the latter, Morneau would have been claimed.
Morneau is very similar to Garrett Jones this year. He has a .262/.318/.423 line in 435 at-bats, but has been better against right-handers with an .823 OPS compared to a .554 OPS against lefties. If the Pirates were still interested in him, he would most likely be a replacement for Andrew Lambo. His role would either be as a platoon player at first (with Jones moving to right field) or a bench bat with Jose Tabata playing in right field and Jones starting. That formation would probably include Morneau getting starts at first with Jones playing the outfield in kind of a three man platoon over two positions against right-handers.
At this point the Twins can try and hold out for the best possible deal in terms of salary and prospects. I don’t think they will get much, but this gives them some leverage and a new deadline (the August 31st playoff roster deadline) to work with.
Keep in mind that if the Pirates did deal for Morneau, any players traded from the 40-man roster would have to pass through waivers to the Twins. Currently that would be all 14 teams in the NL, plus three teams in the AL.