Report: Justin Morneau set to retire, rejoin Twins as special assistant
Justin Morneau could soon be coming home.
One of five Twins to win the American League MVP, the popular former first baseman reportedly plans to retire after 14 seasons in the major leagues to become a special assistant in the Twins front office. Hall of Fame baseball writer Bob Elliott, now of Canadian Baseball Network, reported the news via Twitter on Monday night.
An announcement could come later this week.
Morneau, 36, spent his first 11 seasons with the Twins, including an MVP tour de force in 2006. He was bidding for another MVP award in 2010 when he suffered the first of multiple concussions that plagued him over a two-year period.
Morneau, who represented Team Canada in all four World Baseball Classics to date, also won a batting crown with the Colorado Rockies in 2014, when he hit .319. That July saw Morneau return to Target Field for the Home Run Derby, where he was cheered loudly by the appreciative Twin Cities crowd.
Six years earlier at Yankee Stadium, Morneau outlasted Josh Hamilton to win the Home Run Derby in the final year at the House That Ruth Built. A four-time all-star, Morneau won the Silver Slugger award twice and was named Twins’ Bob Allison Leadership Award winner on three occasions.
With his six-year, $70 million contract set to expire after the 2013 season, Morneau was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility. In return the Twins received outfielder Alex Presley and a player to be named who turned out to be left-hander Kris Johnson.
In his final game in a Twins uniform, Morneau homered off Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish in Arlington, Texas. That game-winning blast in the seventh inning gave Morneau 221 career homers for the Twins, third-most in Minnesota baseball history.
Only Harmon Killebrew and Kent Hrbek went deep more often for the Twins than Morneau, who was drafted out of New Westminster High School in British Columbia in the third round in 1999. Drafted as a catcher, Morneau moved to first base permanently in 2001 while in Class A and never looked back.
Last offseason the Twins added franchise greats Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer as special assistants to baseball operations. They also count hall of famers Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris as special assistants along with former manager Tom Kelly, Tony Oliva and Hrbek.
Morneau, who still maintains a home in the Twin Cities, hit .261 in 58 games for the Chicago White Sox in 2016 after coming back from surgery on his left (non-throwing) elbow. Morneau had hoped to continue playing last season but could not find a suitable opportunity as he and wife Krista tended to their four young children.