According to Jim Bowden of ESPN (subscription required), the man who has played all 11 seasons of his career at first for the Twins is on the trading block, and he could be looking for a new place to live soon. The New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays are all in the playoff hunt, and it looks like they all have interest in the 32-year-old Morneau, Bowden stated:
The Justin Morneau era is about over in Minnesota. The Twins are prepared to trade him, with the Yankees, Pirates and Rays all being rumored as possible destinations.
The Twins are looking to use their stacked farm system to build for the future, and trading away aging stars like Morneau is part of that plan.
Let's take a look at what the team could get in return for their first baseman who's batting .273 with seven home runs and 52 RBI at the break.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are in the thick of a tight AL playoff race, sitting 2.5 games back of the AL-leading Boston Red Sox in the AL East and just two games up on the Baltimore Orioles for the last wild card spot.
The AL will be decided in the second half of the season, and the Rays are looking to make a late-season push to secure a spot in the postseason.
The Rays already have James Loney playing first base, but the team is inexplicably interested in the declining Morneau.
Morneau might not be too happy to be traded to Tampa, however, as he is batting just .158 at Tropicana Field in the last three years. He hasn't found much success there, and playing there on a regular basis could be a bad move during a contract year.
The Rays would likely be conservative when determining who to send to Minnesota, as they are not as desperate for Morneau as other teams.
However, LHP Enny Romero could be on the move. He is a left-handed pitcher, which is rare these days, and he could potentially make an impact at some point in his career.
This trade doesn't make all that much sense, which is why it's ranked last on this list.
Grade for Twins: B-
Grade for Rays: F
Overall Grade: D+
2. New York Yankees
The Bronx Bombers are in desperate need of a power-hitting corner-infielder, and they're hoping that Morneau could be the answer to that problem.
With Mark Teixeira done for the year and Alex Rodriguez likely to be suspended by MLB, and Yankees are stuck with Lyle Overbay at first and Luis Cruz at third, neither of whom should start for a postseason contender.
Trading for Morneau makes a lot of sense in the fact that he's a big upgrade over Overbay. However, at the same time he doesn't address the need for a right-handed batter in the lineup, as he would simply add to a left-handed lineup.
The Yankees will likely only have Morneau for the rest of the 2013 season, after which his contract expires. However, with multiple suitors for him, the Twins will ask for a top prospect in return.
The Twins have a need for a pitching prospect to join their farm system, and RHP Jose Campos could be that guy who pushes them into this deal.
Grade for Twins: A-
Grade for Yankees: B
Overall Grade: B+
1. Pittsburgh Pirates
The team with the second-best record in baseball also has one of the worst first basemen among contenders.
The Bucs currently have Garrett Jones starting at first, boasting a .253 batting average and below average power. He has not been all that helpful at first, and the team needs to find a replacement via trade.
The Pirates will need to surrender a top-level prospect to get Morneau, and the team is desperate for a guy like Morneau, who has hit .300 at PNC Park in the last three years.
The guy the team should be looking to deal for Morneau is RHP Tyler Glasnow, who has a ton of potential.
The 6'7", 19-year-old right hander has a lot of potential, but at the same time could be a huge bust. His future is unclear, and the Pirates could potentially look back on this trade as a steal.
The Twins should be looking for high-ceiling prospects who could potentially be key in the team's future success, and if Glasnow pans out they could be sitting pretty.
Grade for Twins: A
Grade for Pirates: A-
Overall Grade: A
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