Saturday, August 31, 2013

Morneau To Pittsburgh For Presley

The Pirates have acquired 1B Justin Morneau from Minnesota for OF Alex Presley and a PTBNL or cash. . By pulling the trigger now, he's eligible for the playoffs. He'll replace Presley in the 40-man roster, and our guess is that Andrew Lambo will move off the active roster briefly as he has options; the Bucs believe that Morneau will be in town around game time.

Morneau has hit .259/.315/.426 with 17 HR - nine this month - and 74 RBI. He's lefty, so it'll be interesting to see how he and Garrett Jones coexist; we'd expect to see Jones and Byrd platoon in RF, and Morneau and Gaby at first, although at .292 - RHP/.251 - LHP, JM's splits are bearable though more pronounced this year. Clint Hurdle didn't offer any insights on how he planned to use him.

Like Byrd and Buck, he's a FA after this campaign, and as a long-time Twin could possibly return to Minnesota during the off season. The deals show that the Pirates FO believes in this team; they're building for September and October rather than the long-term.

Morneau is 32, a four-time AL All-Star (2007-10) and 2006 MVP. In eleven seasons with the Twins, the he's a lifetime .278 hitter with 221 HR and 860 RBI. He hasn't quite been the same since suffering a concussion in 2010, and the fact that the Pirates got him for a reserve OF'er shows how far his stock has dropped in a couple of seasons; he cleared August waivers to become trade-eligible.

Presley is a career .261/.299/.419 (98 OPS+) hitter in parts of four big league seasons with the Bucs, and is expected to compete for a roster position in Minnesota, an opportunity he probably wouldn't see as a Pirate. He was out of options in Pittsburgh after the season, so they flipped him rather than possibly risk losing him next year.

All in all, a low-cost deal that strengthens the bench; Morneau is certainly an upgrade over Presley with the stick. Still, both he and Jones are 102 OPS+ hitters; whether he was brought in to be insurance for Jones or a replacement is yet to be seen, and how Clint Hurdle juggles the pair will be challenging. 

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