The White Sox signing of Justin Morneau was worth the one-year $1 million contract. What should they be expecting when the 35-year-old 1B-DH returns from elbow surgery?
Should the White Sox expect a lot of production from Justin Morneau when he debuts after the All-Star break? Morneau is a 35-year old player that has had several concussions and is currently on the disabled list after elbow surgery. He will have some catching up to do after missing the first half of the season.
The biggest concern with Morneau is age and his past history with concussions. He won the 2006 American League MVP award, but that was a decade ago. This is a player well past his prime, just as Jimmy Rollins was.
When a player has had as many concussions as Morneau has had, (going back to his hockey days in Canada) it is easier to get another. A minor head issue could cause him to be out for an extended period of time. Something that would have no impact on a player with no head injuries could be potentially more serious to Morneau.
Morneau was hitting .310 before he went down with an injury last season with the Colorado Rockies. In his last full season (with the Rockies in 2014), Morneau had a slash line of .319/17/82. The big issue with all of this is that due to injuries and age there is a chance for him to fall off a cliff quickly.
Morneau, if healthy is going to give the Sox a solid left-handed bat in the lineup. If he has deteriorated at all over the last several months, it is unlikely that he is anything more than a mediocre hitter.
The White Sox likely see Morneau as a lottery ticket. He was available on the market because of the elbow surgery, his concussion history and because he is not available until after the All-Star break. That is why the White Sox were able to sign him to a one-year, $1Million contract.
The White Sox are trying to stockpile as many bats as possible in case of other injuries, or if they are unable to land another big bat before the trading deadline. If Morneau can help them win a game or two before the deadline, that could help them decide if they should buy or sell (if he is a bust). There is about a 50/50 chance Morneau succeeds. While he could end up a bargain, it is just a likely that he fails.
With Austin Jackson down for the next few weeks, the White Sox are going to have to find a way to mix and match to score runs. Once Jackson comes off the D.L, and Morneau makes his debut, the lineup should get a fairly solid boost.
Until they return the White Sox have to hope to stay in the Wild Card race. The Cleveland Indians are quickly pulling away in the A.L. Central. The Wild Card is the White Sox best hope now If not, expect it to be eight seasons with no postseason baseball on the South Side.