Justin Morneau was once considered to be the face or one of the faces of the Minnesota Twins. Alongside Joe Mauer, Morneau was going to lead the Twins to an endless streak of playoff appearances. Unfortunately, a nasty concussion kept him from fulfilling his potential. Now, the Twins must decide what to do in regards to Morneau's next contract. If there is one.
According to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com, the Twins have not yet approached Morneau about an extension. Morneau has said he does not want the contract negotiations to be a distraction during the season, but he did not specifically say the two sides won't negotiate. In truth, Morneau's agent will surely be in contact with the front office throughout the season.
Morneau is playing in the final year of his six-year, $80 million deal. That contract was signed prior to the 2008 season. Since the deal was consummated, Morneau has played a full season only once. In two of the six years, he has not even cracked 100 games-played. Morneau's injury history has likely limited his negotiation leverage.
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Prior to signing his six-year contract in 2008, Morneau had already played five solid seasons for the Twins. He was the American League MVP in 2006, and he finished second in MVP voting in 2008. He is a four-time All-Star, but the 31-year old has not made an All-Star appearance since 2010. And even then, things were starting to go bad in the second half.
Last season was a bounce-back year of sorts for Morneau. He played in 134 games and posted a healthy line. He hit .267/.333/.440 last year. If Morneau can continue to stay healthy and produce at a solid clip, he could earn himself another long-term deal. If he battles injuries once again, Morneau may be faced with the start of the dreaded one-year contracts that often follow injury-plagued players. This season will be the deciding one when it comes to Morneau's future.