There is no way for anybody to say for sure if the Colorado Rockies should have traded first baseman Justin Morneau to the Milwaukee Brewers or not earlier this month. That argument cannot reasonably be made without knowing what the trade offers actually were or how those trade negotiations went.
Now, the question of whether or not this iteration of the Rockies’ front office is qualified to assess a good return for Morneau is another issue completely. All we know is that the Brewers claimed Morneau, trying to address their painfully glaring need at first base.
No trade was executed, but any other information beyond that is pretty fuzzy. The information we do know comes from a report from Jon Heyman of CBS:
The first-place Milwaukee Brewers won the claim on Justin Morneau, the current NL batting average leader, but were unable to acquire him.
The Brewers made an offer of unknown players to the Rockies for Morneau after getting the claim, but Colorado apparently didn’t believe it was good value for Morneau. So he is staying in Colorado.
All we can do is pose a philosophical question, assuming that the Brewers offered something reasonable for Morneau: given the current construction of the Rockies roster and the moves they plan to make this off-season, should they have sold high on Morneau and his NL-leading .317 batting average?
One can hardly overstate how great Morneau has been this season. He has hit at home and hit on the road. He has played defense, he has held his own against left-handed pitching, and most importantly, he has hit for power.
If the Rockies think that Morneau can repeat most of that production next season, then it makes sense to keep him…as long as they make the difficult decision to part ways with Michael Cuddyer.
If the Rockies had any inclination that this season is an outlier for Morneau in the second half of his career, they should think more seriously about a trade. They could capitalize on Morneau’s outstanding 2014 season while letting some other team deal with the risk of him sustaining this production in his age 34 season and staying healthy enough to do so. Make no question, there is risk in that regard as Morneau has dealt with neck stiffness from time to time over the course of the season.
Trading Morneau would also assume that the Rockies are serious about keeping Cuddyer. If they are, they absolutely must move him to first base and stop this madness. Cuddyer does not belong in right field, and each day that Corey Dickerson is not in the lineup, it gets more absurd. It was a nice story and all to have both Cuddyer and Morneau, longtime friends dating back to their days in Minnesota. But if either stays, he needs to become the primary first baseman and the other has got to go.
I am inclined to believe the Rockies should keep Morneau, but that is still connected to my opinion that they should have been serious about trading Cuddyer for a while now.
To answer the question of whether or not the Rockies should trade Morneau, we have to know what their plans are with Cuddyer. We won’t know until this winter, but here’s betting that both are back next season. That will raise the “good guy” quota on the Rockies while unfortunately sending us into another season of poor roster construction.
At least they are good guys, right?