MLB Rumors: Pittsburgh Pirates eye Justin Morneau for stretch

August 27, 2013 – 4:50 pm by Ryan Phillips

Justin Morneau

On Tuesday the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets to bolster their squad for the stretch run. According to reports, the team isn’t satisfied and has its eyes on an even bigger name to help its quest for a playoff spot.

John Heyman is reporting that the Pirates are looking hard at Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau to help beef up their roster as they battle the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the National League Central. The 32-year-old has cleared waivers, which means he can be traded to any team.

Right field has been a huge issue for the Pirates all season, and with Starling Marte missing time thanks to a hand injury, adding Byrd was a big deal. Now adding Morneau could take Pittsburgh’s lineup to another level. While he’s not producing the way he was when he won the American League MVP Award in 2006, Morneau can still swing the bat.

The four-time All-Star is currently hitting .263 with 15 home runs and 72 RBIs. His on-base percentage is a respectable .321 and his OPS sits at .745. Additionally his WAR of 1.6 is his best since 2010.

Reports have suggested that the Twins would be willing to pay some of the $3 million left on Morneau’s $14 million salary, depending on the prospect they get back in return for him. If the Pirates were willing to swallow Morneau’s entire contract, the Twins might be willing to part with him for even less.┬áMorneau will be a free agent after the season and a return to Minnesota doesn’t appear likely.

The Pirates seem to be the only team really interested in Morneau at this point. The Baltimore Orioles kicked the tires on him over the past two weeks and their interest has reportedly cooled.

Pittsburgh has its best chance for a division title in 20 years this season, and the Pirates are showing how desperate they are to capture the NL Central crown by being so aggressive in adding players. Morneau could be a great pickup.

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