Former AL MVP Justin Morneau couldn’t find a taker this offseason after surgery to fix a balky elbow, but has recovered enough to come out of quasi-retirement. The White Sox have confirmed the news first reported by Minneapolis radio personality Paul “Meatsauce” Lambert (seriously) that they have signed Morneau to a 1-year, $1 million contract (just after they DFA’ed Mat Latos) and have placed him on the 15-day disabled list.
Morneau will finish his recovery with the White Sox and will presumably rehab in the minors before being recalled later this summer to take at bats from Avisail Garcia, who has hit .248/.307/.391 and the other White Sox DHs who have struggled as Chicago has slipped to fourth place in the AL Central and a game under .500 after having the best record in the American League less than a month ago.
Morneau has hit .282/.349/.483 in his 13 year career with 241 homers, been an All Star four times, and won the AL MVP in 2006 for the Minnesota Twins. A devastating concussion untracked his career in 2010 in the middle of his best season. Since then, he has also been plagued by back, knee, and elbow problems that have all required surgery. He bounced back in 2014 to win the National League batting title for the Colorado Rockies, but struggled to stay on the field in 2015 after yet another traumatic brain injury.
Essentially, this is a no-risk move for the Sox, who potentially get an impact bat for the middle of their lineup for very little commitment if Morneau can beat the odds again. Frankly, it’s riskier for Morneau, whose previous concussions have left him unable to hold his own children and put his long-term health in question. Morneau is, of course, his own man, and can make any decision he wishes in conjunction with his physician’s approval. As a Twins fan, all I can say is that I just want him to be ok regardless of whether he plays or not, or who he plays for.
It’s certainly going to be strange for Twins fans to see him in their rivals’ black and white pinstripes when the clubs meet later this year. Still, Morneau has persevered through incredible odds to this point. And everyone should be rooting for one of the most respected guys in the game to stay on the field.