Trade Deadline 2013: Blue Jays Checked In On Justin Morneau


Mar. 9, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Canada designated hitter Justin Morneau hits an RBI double in the first inning against Mexico during the World Baseball Classic at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s another fine example of a Major League Baseball trade rumor that you can take with a grain of salt.

During his Sunday column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo noted that the Toronto Blue Jays were one of numerous calls that the Minnesota Twins have received for first baseman Justin Morneau. The former American League Most Valuable Player is in the final year of a 6-year, $80 million deal and the Twins are expected to shop him heading into the trade deadline.

However, this is not the Justin Morneau of old. Numerous concussions and lingering injuries have left the 32-year-old a shell of former self. After playing a mostly healthy season in 2012 and hitting a respectable, if unspectacular.267 with 19 home runs, 77 RBI, and a .773 OPS, Morneau has experienced further decline in 2013. This season he’s managed a line of .267 with 8 home runs, 53 RBI, and a .727 OPS.

Both seasons are a far cry from his 2006 MVP season, when Morneau hit .321 with 34 home runs, 130 RBI, and a .934 OPS. They are also sizably lower than 2008 MVP runner-up season, when he hit .300 with 23 home runs, 129 RBI, and a .873 OPS.

The fact that Cafardo says that Blue Jays have expressed an interest is, well, odd to say the least. Aside from Morneau’s Canadian nationality, it is tough to imagine what sort of appeal he’d have for the Blue Jays at this point in the season. The left-handed hitter is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season and quite frankly, the Blue Jays are already getting above average production from their first baseman this season, in Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind.

Adding Morneau would have only made sense if the team was adamant about continuing with the Brett Lawrie second base experiment. They could have then shifted Encarnacion to third and swapped Morneau and Lind between first base and designated hitter. However, doing so would have weakened the team defensively and added another dimension to an already awkward platoon situation for the left-handed hitters in the line-up.

If the Blue Jays see something in Morneau and want to bring him home to Canada, their best option would be to wait until the offseason and then look into it. Regardless, it still doesn’t strike me as a very good move for a front office that will have bigger holes to fill.