Pirates Looking at Justin Morneau After Byrd Trade

The Pirates are still interested in Morneau.

The Pirates are still interested in Morneau.

The Pirates might not be done trading. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that they are still looking at Justin Morneau after the addition of Marlon Byrd this afternoon. Heyman says that the Twins would be willing to pay some of the $3 M that Morneau is owed over the final month of the year. He also says that while the Pirates paid a lot today for a rental in Byrd, they’ve deemed the requests from the Twins as too high.

I’ve written in the past about how Morneau would be an upgrade over Garrett Jones, although he wouldn’t be the monster upgrade that everyone is making him out to be. On the season he has an .821 OPS against right-handers, with a .565 OPS against lefties. He would replace Garrett Jones in the first base platoon, where Jones has a .731 OPS this year.

Morneau elevated his numbers this year with a monster stretch in the first two weeks of August, where he hit six homers. Since clearing waivers, Morneau has cooled, and is hitting for a .779 OPS, which is closer to his full season numbers. Still, Jones is struggling lately, so the Pirates would get the hotter bat if they added Morneau. The addition would also strengthen the bench by moving Jones to that role, although that depends on whether he could bounce back.

I don’t think the Pirates should over-pay for Morneau to the extent that they paid for Byrd. It was only a month ago that Jones had a hot bat (.804 OPS in July), while Morneau was the one struggling (.596 OPS in July). Things can change quickly for either player. I think that right field was the bigger need for the team, and Byrd has been consistently good this season. He also can hit lefties, which is an area where the Pirates have struggled. So overall, Byrd filled more needs than Morneau would. That doesn’t mean Morneau wouldn’t fill a need or be an upgrade. I just don’t see him being as big of an upgrade as he’s made out to be.

UPDATE 5:32 PM: Michael Sanserino of the Post-Gazette says the Pirates are skeptical that the Twins would deal Morneau.

UPDATE 5:44 PM: Ken Rosenthal says that the Orioles are looking for a DH and could be another team in on Morneau.

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://www.facebook.com/wilbertmatthews Wilbert Matthews

    Did we find out who claimed Morales? I would prefer him as a switch hitter over Morneau.

  • michaelbro8

    Byrd yes; Morneau NO ! Not enough of a boost (if any) to warrant the cost

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

      Agree…unless it is for someone like andy Oliver.

  • IC Bob

    I would love it. I think it would show we are really attacking this season and this would give us quite a jolt. That said I am not giving up a top 15 prospect.

  • TonyPenaforHOF

    Anyone else catch the part of the report that states Marte won’t be able to swing a bat for at least two weeks. That may change the Pirates thinking and motivate a second trade.

    Having said that – no top 10 prospect for Morneau unless they are giving something else of value back.

  • moose7195

    If it took a top 10 guy and a decent PTBNL to get Byrd. I’m kinda scared to see what Morneau would take

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

      Also, the Twins seem to be more attached to Morneau since he is a fan favorite. Far different situation than Byrd as Byrd signed with the Mets for the 2013 season.

  • connolly21

    Justin M would look good in 2014 for 6-7 mill Go for it