Mackey: New rules will limit what Twins can get in return for Morneau
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
Justin Morneau has reportedly been placed on waivers by the Minnesota Twins (Brandon Warne does a fine job explaining the process here), which means there is a very distinct possibility he is traded sometime in the coming days.
The Twins appear to have played their hand well - holding onto Morneau past the July 31 non-waiver deadline while he struggled in hopes that he would catch fire before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline, and their patience paid off. Morneau has six home runs since the deadline and looks fresh, thanks to a new approach with hitting coach Tom Brunansky over the past few weeks.
Brunansky told Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony, "'The last couple weeks we've just been swinging less,'" Antony said Saturday on 1500 ESPN's Inside Twins. "Morneau goes into the cage, he hits about 10, 12, 15 balls off the tee, and Bruno said, 'That looks good, let's go.' ... He said (Morneau) is relaxed a little more at the plate, and he said the ball is jumping off his bat."
Unfortunately for the Twins, despite Morneau's resurgence, Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement has severely limited their potential return in any trade.
Up until two years ago, teams could receive draft pick compensation (either a first- or a second-round pick) if one of their players departed for another team via free agency. Without getting into the boring details, the new CBA only allows teams to receive draft pick compensation for departing players who spent the entire season on that roster.
In other words, up until two years ago a team could trade for Morneau, use him down the stretch, then let him walk in free agency and gain a high draft pick as compensation (as long as they offered Morneau a one-year deal before free agency). Now, players like Morneau are true rentals. If he gets traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates then signs with the New York Yankees in the offseason, the Pirates get nothing in return - except for six weeks of Morneau's service (and any post-season contributions).
"I think (the new CBA) has changed it a lot, because a rental player - teams used to be able to look at it and say, 'Well, we'll be able to get a draft pick for him,'" Antony said. "So teams that had that player would say, 'We have to at least get the equivalent to a first- or a second-round pick.' ... Now it's more a matter of teams calling and more discussion about money, what's left on his contract, and they're less willing to give up good prospects for the quote-unquote rental player."
The Twins themselves are still evaluating whether Morneau will be a part of the club beyond 2013. Whether he gets traded or not, the door is still open for Morneau to sign a new contract in Minnesota.
"We've said all year that we've needed to probably let the season play out, see if he stays healthy, see how productive he is, and then let his play kind of dictate what his market value is," Antony said. "And I think we still believe that. ...
"Everyone expected that we were going to do something at the trade deadline with him. There was some interest. We talked with some clubs. But we were also not in a situation where we were just going to give him away. We weren't looking to dump salary or anything else, and we're trying to win games, and we wanted to see what Justin could do."