Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press is reporting that the Twins are refusing to discuss a contract extension with first baseman Justin Morneau until after the July 31 trade deadline. The 39-53 Twins are looking to trade the 32-year-old, who is earning $14 million in the final year of a six-year, $80 million contract. Berardino writes that Morneau’s representatives approached the Twins in the past week to talk contract extension, but were rebuffed.
Twins GM Terry Ryan said, “I don’t think it’s very smart for me to get into Morneau’s contract. I’m keeping all options open.”
Morneau is hitting .268 with seven home runs and a .727 OPS this season, mediocre numbers from a first baseman. His current .400 slugging percentage would be a career-low among the nine seasons in which he has accrued at least 300 plate appearances.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.