Trade Speculation: Is Morneau an Orioles Trade Target?

"Smiling is for pansies." ~ Justin Morneau - Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Early in the Winter Meetings, the Baltimore Sun reported that the Orioles have the pieces in place to acquire a power-hitting first baseman/DH. They're just debating whether or not to pull the trigger. Our own No. 33 is a pretty logical fit.

Aside from being linked to a bevy of underwhelming pitchers on the first day of the Winter Meetings, the Twins news was pretty sparse. So maybe this is a reach. You can call it that, speculation or an educated guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if an early report from yesterday had some relevance to the Twins.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the Orioles have a deal lined up to add a slugging first baseman/DH type, but aren't sure they want to pull the trigger. Dan Connolly, who penned the article, noted that the O's do seem willing to deal from their surplus of young arms (I think "surplus" is a bit generous, but I'll avoid semantics for the most part I suppose).

I started trying to come up with a list of available first base/DH types on teams that were out of contention and came to the realization that a lot of non-contenders aren't in a position to deal that type of player. The Indians, for example, don't even have a good first baseman or DH right now. The Cubs certainly aren't dealing Anthony Rizzo, and the Mets stated plain and simple about two months ago that they will not move Ike Davis. The Mariners are trying to add offense, and don't have anyone that fits the bill anyway. Ditto for the Astros. The Royals sound like they're hanging onto Billy Butler.

I then thought of contenders and psuedo-contenders with bad contracts at those spots or multiple players who fit the bill and came up with the following whopping list:

If I'm overlooking someone, by all means call it out. I had someone suggest Alfonso Soriano on Twitter, but that makes very little sense as he's not really a "first base" type. He could fit as a DH, but why would the Orioles be even mulling over trading away pieces to acquire a contract that bad? The same logic can be applied to Lind, who is also in their division, so I struck him off the list quickly.

The Angels are a logical target and are in search of pitching, so it's possible that they're the team at the other end of this, but I also started thinking about the Orioles. If I were Dan Duquette and looking to add offense, what traits would I look for? Left-handed power.

Looking and down the Orioles' 2012 lineup, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Mark Reynolds (who has since been non-tendered) and Manny Machado are all right-handed. Matt Wieters is a switch-hitter, but he struggles terribly from the left side of the dish. Nick Markakis is a nice bat, but he's not the annual 20-25 homer bat they hoped he'd eventually become.

The biggest source of left-handed pop that team has going right now is Chris Davis, and he's had exactly one full, productive Major League season.

Admittedly Trumbo does have a pretty neutral split, and Morales is pretty one-sided, doing most of his damage from the left side of the plate. So maybe in the end, I'm just over-thinking all of this. I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the O's are prioritizing left-handed pop, though. And, given Morneau's strong second half against left-handed pitching, they may prefer the straight lefty bat who showed signs of rebirth against same-handed pitching.

It's all speculation at this point, but Terry Ryan would undoubtedly love to get his hands on one of Baltimore's controllable pitchers. And the Twins have something that the Orioles lack and clearly prefer not to acquire via free agency, at least at this point.

Maybe I'm completely off-base on this line of thinking, but it certainly seems possible to me.

Steve Adams also writes for MLBTradeRumors.com, MLB.com and RotoAuthority.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @Adams_Steve

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