Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported this morning that the Milwaukee Brewers were awarded a waiver claim earlier this week but were unable to work out a trade with the posting team. As such, the player was pulled back from waivers and will not be headed to Milwaukee for the balance of the season.
The player in question is Colorado Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau, he of the National League-leading .317 batting average and good defense.
Morneau, who took a relatively inexpensive deal in Colorado during the off-season, has been very good for the Rockies in 2014 when he’s been healthy. He dealt with a bit of a neck injury around the non-waiver trading deadline, for example.
Unfortunately, in some ways, the Brewers were not able to work out a trade with Colorado to acquire Morneau. The Rockies’ front office has had astronomical asking prices for most of their players this season once they decided to sell. And they wouldn’t move some pieces that made little sense to hang on to (i.e. LaTroy Hawkins). Morneau doesn’t fit the latter. He’s under contract for 2015 at only $6.75 million with a mutual option for 2016 at just $9 million as well. He’s an affordable piece, even for a second-division club like the Rockies. In other words, he’s quite sensible to keep. As for the asking price, while we don’t know exactly what the Brewers offered, we do know that it was a package of players and that Colorado declined it and simply pulled Morneau back.
Morneau would have been a nice upgrade despite Lyle Overbay’s recent successes at the plate. Morneau plays good defense, crushes right-handed pitching, and isn’t terrible against southpaws. He’s not a Coors Field product either. He’s hit for a slightly higher average on the road in 2014, with matching slugging percentages of .500 both at home and away. He also possesses great career numbers at Miller Park. He doesn’t have the power of Mark Reynolds, but that .500 SLG as of press time amidst an overall slash line of .317/.360/.500, is nothing to sneeze at.
But we don’t need to worry about why Morneau would have been a good fit on the field. We also don’t need to worry about the specific pieces that were in the package offered.
As I told one of my radio stations when we recorded my segment about 10 minutes after the news broke (you can hear it today at 3:30pm in Wausau on ESPN Radio, by the by), while Morneau makes sense on paper, the Brewers’ best offer wasn’t deemed to be enough by Colorado. That’s what matters to me because Doug Melvin was willing to go to a point but not past it to somewhat improve a position. Colorado has every right to ask for the moon, but Melvin has a good track record of knowing what’s a fair return. If he didn’t think that the juice was worth the squeeze, then it probably wasn’t. It’s not ALL about 2014. It unfortunately never can be. And Melvin is right far more often than he isn’t when it comes to matters of roster decisions.
Let’s just hope it wouldn’t have made the difference.