Justin Morneau Would "Love" to Stay a Twin, but Does Management Agree?

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Justin Morneau Would
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Justin Morneau, in the final year of a six-year, $80 million deal that will pay him $19 million this season, will likely be shopped around if the Twins fall out of contention in the AL Central.

The 2006 AL MVP told 1500ESPN.com's Judd Zulgad that he hopes to remain with the Twins this season, and beyond...but with a hitch. 

"If it looks like there's a chance we're going to win, I'd love to stay here. I've been here my whole career and this where I hope to be in the future. It's hard to say otherwise. But sometimes those decisions aren't yours. So we'll see. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

Morneau also told Zulgad that he was able to go full speed with his offseason workouts and didn't have to worry as much about his health as he did a year ago when he was coming off multiple surgeries and dealing with the concussion issues that almost forced him to retire.

2013 is going to be a struggle for the Twins, who dealed outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere for young pitching. They're hoping the veterans they brought in (Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia) can help improve a pitching staff that finished with a 4.77 ERA (second worst in the American League) and was the only MLB team to not record 1000 (943) strikeouts.

Despite that, Morneau has that spring training optimism and hopes the Twins will be buyers instead of sellers come July.

"So until that comes along and it's proved otherwise, we plan on being a team that's going to battle and be in it in July and hopefully adding to this team whatever we need."

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The Twins have flirted with the 100-loss mark the last two seasons, losing 99 in 2011 and 96 last year. Minnesota hasn't lost 100 games in a season since 1982: a young team that featured Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Frank Viola, Tim Laudner and Tom Brunansky...all in their early 20s and integral cogs of the team that would win the World Series five seasons later.

The Twins also traded fan-favorite Roy Smalley to the New York Yankees for prospects (including Greg Gagne) and drafted Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett with the third overall pick in the MLB Entry Draft.

It wouldn't be a surprise if Morneau plays the part of Smalley this year.

Morneau hit .267 with 19 home runs and 77 RBI in 134 games last season. He was being shopped around the league, and appeared to be on his way to the Los Angeles Dodgers before they made the mega-deal with the Boston Red Sox involving Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and former Twin Nick Punto.

It also doesn't bode well with Morneau with the Twins are still appearing committed to the 24-year-old Chris Parmelee, who hit .338/.457/.645 with 17 homers in 64 games at Triple-A Rochester last season. Parmelee is expected to be the starting right fielder for the Twins to get big league at-bats until the first base position is vacant, either by trade or Morneau leaving next winter via free agency.

Morneau also says the he and the Twins haven't talked extension, which is good considering his recent injury history.

"I think from their side and my side they want to see where I'm at. The last few years there have been some difficulties with all the injuries and all that stuff. It's not something I'm really interested in doing during the season because it can become a distraction. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I've never been in this situation before. Obviously a young player you make the team and you try to make it to arbitration and get some stability. And for me, I was locked up after my first year of arbitration. So it's something I haven't experienced before but it doesn't change anything. The goal is still to win." 

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