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.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.