Morneau could be perfect for Oakland
The Colorado Rockies have declined the $9 million mutual option on first baseman Justin Morneau. They instead bought out the first baseman for $750,000.
Morneau was limited to just 49 games in 2015 because of a head injury and whiplash he suffered after diving for a ground ball in a game against the Los Angeles Angels back in May. He battled concussion symptoms for most of the season and was placed on the 60-day disabled list. He was reinstated in early September.
Morneau has had head injuries before and is all too familiar with the symptoms, but it doesn’t sound as if the 34-year-old is even considering retirement. He was a four-time All-Star with the Minnesota Twins and was named MVP of the American League in 2006. The Twins traded him to the Pirates in 2013; he then signed a two-year deal with the Colorado Rockies.
Morneau had a great year in 2014. He played in 135 games and hit .319, winning the National League batting title. He was off to a good start in 2015 as well, hitting .290 with three home runs and nine RBI through 27 games prior to his injury.
Upon returning to the team in September, Morneau was feeling better. He ended up finishing the season hitting .310 with 15 RBI. After the season’s final series in San Francisco Morneau had this to say,
“Anybody who’s had success in this game, or played for a while, doesn’t just want to come back, they want to come back and play well. To be able to finish on a good note was nice.”
That doesn’t sound like a player who is considering early retirement. However, taking on a player with a history of head injuries is certainly a risk. The Rockies got a great 2014 season from him but, “will he hold up?” is a question any team thinking about signing Morneau would have to ask themselves.
More than likely, due to the risk of injury, he’ll get a short-term contract – perhaps 1-2 years for likely less than the $9 million per year he was bought out of instead of given. This deal screams Oakland all over it.
The team was less than impressed with the production of Ike Davis, who was supposed to play first base while Billy Butler was supposed to be the regular designated hitter. However, Davis was injured most of the season, limited to 74 games and only hit .229. Butler and All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt filled in for Davis at first most of the year.
This is why Morneau would be a nice addition to the Oakland A’s. He’ll likely come at a low price, something that always intrigues Oakland, and when he is healthy he’s twice the hitter that Davis is. Both hitters are left-handed, which doesn’t then affect the lineup except in a positive way.
If the A’s non-tender Davis – and as previously stated, they were not happy with his production last season – they could sign Morneau as an alternative. The risk for the A’s would even be relatively low.
It could be a loss of money if Morneau gets hurt, but they have backups for the position at least, in Butler and Vogt. If Morneau remains healthy, he is capable of hitting .300 on the year and across his career has averaged 19 home runs and 76 RBI a season.
A likely low-cost (and therefore relatively low-risk) option that could end up That is definitely a bat that could help improve the A’s sluggish offense.