The Pirates picked up Marlon Byrd and John Buck in a deal with the Mets earlier this week, but they aren’t done bolstering their offense. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Pirates have acquired first baseman Justin Morneau from the Twins for outfielder Alex Presley.
Morneau passed through waivers earlier this month, so he was eligible to be traded to any team. The 32-year-old is batting .259/.315/.426 with 17 home runs and 74 RBI in 127 games this season, though it’s worth noting that nine of those home runs have come this month. The alternatives at first base include Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez, so it’s worth a shot to attempt to catch some lightening in a bottle down the stretch. Morneau will be a free agent at season’s end.
The trade marks an unceremonious end to Morneau’s time in Minnesota. A third-round pick of the Twins in 1999, he compiled a .278/.347/.485 batting line over 11 seasons with the club and amassed 1,318 hits and 221 home runs (he moved into fourth place on the team’s all-time list by passing Tony Oliva last night). He won the American League MVP Award in 2006 and also made four All-Star appearances.
Presley, 28, owns a .261/.299/.419 batting line over 204 games in the majors. He’s likely a fourth or fifth outfielder on a good team, so it’s a modest price to pay for Pittsburgh.
UPDATE: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the Twins will also receive a player to be named later or cash considerations.
UPDATE II: Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Pirates will cover Morneau’s salary for the rest of the season.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.