The Yankees need to add a bat or two as Major League Baseball’s July 31 trade deadline quickly approaches. Justin Morneau is a potential acquisition who would thrive with the Bronx Bombers in New York.
New York is one of a few teams interested in acquiring the 2006 American League MVP, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). Morneau would fit nicely in the heart of the lineup for the Bronx Bombers at either first base or as the regular designated hitter.
Both spots are lineup weaknesses for New York's offense this season. The Yankees only rank 21st in production at first base this season in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs while their DH spot has had the second-worst production in the AL.
New York could use an upgrade, to say the least.
Morneau is hitting .270/.329/.400 through 90 games with the Twins this season to go with seven home runs and 52 RBI. The first baseman hasn’t played much due to injuries the last few years—averaging just 95 games per season from 2010 through 2012—but he appears to be completely healthy at the moment.
There’s no question that Morneau has struggled at times this season. Among qualified first basemen, he ranks 21st in WAR, per FanGraphs. Lyle Overbay, New York’s main first baseman, is one slot ahead of him, but that doesn’t mean Morneau wouldn’t be better than Overbay in New York.
You’d be astonished to see how well Morneau has hit at Yankee Stadium throughout his career. In 16 games at the new Yankee Stadium, the first baseman is hitting .433/.507/.883 with seven home runs and 11 RBI. He probably wouldn’t keep up that pace playing there regularly, but he’d definitely be very productive.
Morneau is only under contract through the remainder of this season The Yankees could consider him a short-term replacement until Mark Teixeira is healthy enough to play at the start of the 2014 season. If Morneau hits well in his few months with the Bronx Bombers, he may sign an extension to be the designated hitter in New York.
Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News recently wrote about how the Yankees need to add a bat at the deadline. Cashman told McCarron, "we’re interested in adding and reinforcing and getting better.”
One would presume, based on Cashman's take, that Morneau is what the Yankees are looking for and they would be better with him on their active roster.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports the Yankees are primarily targeting right-handed hitters, though, which Morneau isn’t. He also writes that it’s been a soft market for Morneau, but he is available and “likely to be dealt somewhere.”
There’s a chance that New York could get the former MVP without Cashman having to give up a top prospect in return.
Morneau is owed only $6 million through the remainder of the season, which is nothing for a player who could hit at least 10 home runs in his home ballpark down the stretch. Yes, he’s struggled, but maybe Morneau just needs a change of scenery, and there isn’t a better fit for him than with the Yankees.
All you have to do is look at Morneau’s numbers at Yankee Stadium to realize that he’s worth taking a chance on for the right price.
All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 22. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus and all contract information was obtained via Cot's Contracts.