The Twins are showing interest in free-agent first baseman/designated hitter Logan Morrison, reports Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino:
#mntwins are showing interest in free agent 1B Logan Morrison, per person with direct knowledge. Morrison, 30, is coming off a 38-homer season with #Rays. Made $2.5 million last year.— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) February 25, 2018
With full-squad Spring Training kicking off last Monday, top free agents have finally begun to settle into their new homes for 2018 and beyond. However, Morrison remains on the market, despite multiple clubs heading to camp with a first-base void.
Morrison, 30, began his career with an impressive 283/.390/.447 slash line as a rookie for the Marlins in 2010, but slowly regressed from those numbers over his next six seasons. From 2013-2016, Morrison was the model for league-average offensive production (99 OPS+), and hit just 48 home runs across those four seasons.
2017 told a different story for the veteran DH. Morrison began 2017 hitting sixth in the Rays lineup, but a hot April forced Tampa Bay Manager Kevin Cash's hand in moving the slugger into the cleanup spot—where he'd stay for good. When all was said and done in early October, the aging Morrison had put up career-highs in OPS+ (135), home runs (38), walks (81), RBI (85), and fWAR (3.3).
The Twins have given the bulk of 1B/DH reps to aging fan-favorite Joe Mauer, though Mauer's big-league usefulness is waning by the season. As Miguel Sano recovers from offseason leg surgery, he may see more at-bats in the DH spot than is typical for the 2017 All-Star.
Should Sano be unavailable by Opening Day, Morrison could fill that 1B/DH spot for a few weeks as Sano progresses back into the field. If (and when) Morrison proves more valuable in the lineup than the aging Mauer, the breakout slugger could see a large portion of at-bats in the heart of a revamped Twins lineup that is looking to de-throne the reigning AL Central Champs Cleveland Indians.
Another logical fit for Morrison is the Colorado Rockies, with first baseman Mark Reynolds departing via free agency and the club in dire need of more power production. The club masked their fatal flaws in Coors Field's high altitudes, but outside of Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado, the Rockies really struggled at the plate in 2017. Rockies GM Jeff Friedrich has shored up the bullpen, and with a talented young pitching staff headlined by Jon Gray, the Rockies may be one power bat away from contending within a vaunted NL West.
While Fangraphs hates Morrison's defense at first base, his offense is the carrying factor. Projections are conservative on Morrison's 2018 performance due to his age and small sample size of success, though clubs looking for short-term power production should still be willing to take a gamble on the eight-year veteran.