MLB Trade Rumors: Should Pirates make a late push for Justin Morneau?


Ever since before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31, Pittsburgh Pirates fans have been complaining non-stop about the need for general manager Neal Huntington to add another bat for the stretch run.

The only problem is that bat isn’t likely to be available until the offseason.

Jul 31, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau (33) reacts after a strike out during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. The Royals defeated the Twins 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

However with 10 days to go until the waiver trade deadline comes and passes, the Bucs are once again linked to 2006 American League MVP Justin Morneau.

The Pirates, who were involved in Morneau rumors at the trade deadline, are said to have “some” interest in bringing the former MVP into the fold, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

However, is it really a move worth pursuing? The casual fan will look at the Pirates abysmal offense and think it’s a no-brainer.

But look more closely and you will see that the Bucs have scored 132 runs since the All-Star break (entering Wednesday’s game vs. San Diego), which ranks fourth among all National League teams behind the Dodgers (149), Braves (144) and Cardinals (144).

Despite them playing barely over .500 baseball since the beginning of July, they have been scoring runs as of late.

That being said, another bat could certainly help.

But would Morneau really be  much of an improvement over the first-base platoon of  Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez?

Their production at first base is below average compared to the rest of the league, posting a combined .258 batting average with 15 home runs, 30 doubles and a .769 OPS.

Morneau is currently posting similar numbers, hitting .267 this year to go along with 15 home runs, 31 doubles and a .752 OPS.

That hardly represents an upgrade.

However, replacing Jones with Morneau would, if the Pirates would ever be willing to move away from Jones. And that doesn’t mean making him the everyday right fielder; one way the Bucs could improve their offense is to get Jones’ bat out of it completely.

Sanchez will play against southpaws, as he should. His .960 OPS against left-handed pitching makes him a very valuable piece in the lineup if used in the right spots.

Morneau hardly resembles the player he once was and I have a hard time thinking he could make the type of impact on the Pirates’ lineup that many would hope that he would.

But if you look at his recent production in which he has hit .294 with seven homers in the month of August, it may be worth taking a chance on the veteran and hope that he can continue his hot hitting throughout the month of September.

But there are a few sticking points. First of all the Twins aren’t going to send Morneau into a situation he doesn’t want to be in. Will he be happy in a platoon role? Still, the chance to contend for a championship could make that an easy decision for the 32-year-old.

Then there is the asking price. If the Twins are asking for a second-tier prospect, there’s no way I even think about it.

The only way I make a move is if the Bucs can get Morneau for next to nothing.

He’s too similar to Jones as a player and I just don’t think he addresses the Pirates’ need at  the moment.  It is certainly not worth parting with a decent prospect for a first baseman whose best days are behind him. The Pirates already have a player like that in Jones.

But I must say I am intrigued by the run production he could bring to the table.

His 72 RBI on the season would be nice in the middle of the Pirates’ lineup, especially considering the fact that only Pedro Alvarez (83) and Andrew McCutchen (71) have driven in more than 46 runs on the season. That’s where the potential upgrade could be worth the move, especially considering Jones has driven in only 42 runs on the season.

It all depends on the asking price. Morneau is a free agent at the end of the season and the Bucs him would have him for just two months, and won’t be able to submit a qualifying offer to receive a compensation pick should he leave, either.

Overall though, while I don’t feel that a player like Morneau will offer up much of an impact for the final 30-plus games of the regular season, considering the struggles of Jones, it is almost a move that Huntington should make, as long as he could get him for next to nothing.

There’s a chance that Morneau may have a few big hits left in him this season, which is a few more than they will likely get from Jones.

Follow City of Champions Sports on Twitter and Facebook

Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter and Facebook