The Colorado Rockies have signed first baseman Justin Morneau.
This was confirmed by Thomas Harding of the Rockies’ official website on Dec. 13:
“The Rockies signed free agent Justin Morneau, a four-time All-Star and 2006 American League Most Valuable Player during a lengthy career with the Twins, to a two-year, $12.5 million deal on Friday, with a mutual option for 2016. Morneau, 32, steps into the position that was vacated when Todd Helton retired after 17 distinguished seasons in a Rockies uniform.”
The Associated Press breaks down his deal even further:
“Morneau is scheduled to make $5 million in 2014 and $6.75 million in 2015. There’s a $9 million mutual option for the ’16 season and a $750,000 buyout if the club declines. He also has some incentive escalators for 2015 should he have 550 or more plate appearances in 2014 ($500,000), finish in the top three in MVP voting ($1.5 million) or become an All-Star ($375,000).”
With this, Morneau told Harding there is no way he can be another Todd Helton.
“I don’t think anybody ever ever really fills his shoes. You see how rare it is for someone to play their entire career with one organization and put up the numbers that he had.
“We’re different people. We’re different players. His career is Hall of Fame-worthy, for sure. If that happens, that’s great. For me, I’m going to do the things I do well and not really try to replace him or be anybody else. I’ll just help this team win ballgames.”
The Associated Press report also adds Colorado right fielder Michael Cuddyer told Morneau “great things about the organization” which prompted the first baseman to say,”Someone I respect as much as him (Cuddyer) and plays the game the way he does, you want to (join) guys like that.”
Morneau, who has been battling injuries over the past four offseasons, also spoke with The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders on Dec. 13 to say that he should be in good health when training camp kicks off.
“This has been nice, because in the last four offseasons I’ve had either some kind of surgery or an injury that I’ve been working through. This year I haven’t had to deal with any of that.
“This offseason has been so much better, both physically and mentally, and it’s been nice getting back into my regular training routine.”
Rockies manager Walt Weiss had a conversation with Saunders as well and told him his latest acquisition is a great fit who should provide instant offense.
“I think Justin can provide offense for us. I think he’s got power and will use the gaps in Coors Field, a lot like (Michael) Cuddyer has. But more than that, I think he’s the kind of player we like and we can use. He plays the game the right way. He’s smart. I think he’ll bring that leadership to the team for the younger guys, a lot like Cuddy does.”
Saunders’ colleague with The Denver Post, Troy E. Renck, writes Morneau wants to wear No. 33 as a tribute to one of his boyhood idols and fellow Canadian, Larry Walker. Morneau looked up to Walker when he was growing up in New Westminster, British Columbia and learned a thing or two from him when Walker was his hitting coach in the World Baseball Classic.
The 32-year-old Morneau is entering his 12th MLB season and is a four-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger Award winner and 2006 American League MVP. He has previously suited up for the Minnesota Twins and Pittsburgh Pirates, batting .277 for his career with 221 home runs and 863 RBIs, per Baseball-Reference.com.