With Todd Helton now off to greener pastures, the Rockies need a new first baseman. You can expect them to start pursuing free agent Justin Morneau more heavily this week, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Morneau, now 32, was traded to the Pirates at the end of August after a 10 and a half year career with the Twins. He wasn’t particularly effective, mustering just a .681 OPS without hitting a home run in his month-plus with the Pirates.
Morneau has dealt with concussion issues since July 2010, when his head connected with then-Blue Jays second baseman John McDonald’s knee attempting to break up a double play. He missed the rest of the season, a total of 78 games. In late June 2011, he underwent surgery to address a herniated disc, knocking him out of another 55 games. He was shut down for the season at the end of August with an array of ailments, most importantly concussion symptoms that had flared up again. While he has played in at least 134 games in each of the past two seasons, he has been a shadow of his former self.
Colorado could be a good destination for Morneau, especially on a short-term deal. He would benefit from the hitter-friendly confines, which would allow him to rebuild his value and give him potentially one more chance to earn a nice contract before his career is over. In the event the Rockies don’t land Morneau, they consider James Loney their fallback option.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.