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Twins update: Perkins expects to stay, Morneau market looks soft

Twins longtime slugger Justin Morneau is available in trade and likely to be dealt somewhere, but a canvassing of a few possible landing spots suggests a soft market so far.

The Twins are sellers at this point -- "If someone calls, we'll listen," said general manager Terry Ryan -- but Twins-connected people suggest there's almost no chance they'll deal Josh Willingham and don't paint it as especially likely star closer Glen Perkins or even starter Kevin Correia will be traded.

That could leave Morneau as their main trade piece. Though while he's helped them some by showing a bit more power lately, multiple teams that could have been interested sound cool to the idea so far.

The Orioles, Yankees and Rangers are teams that could use a hitter, but there's little evidence that any of those three teams are anxious to dive into the Morneau market, either because those teams view him as expensive or they prefer a right-handed hitter.

The Yankees and Rangers are primarily targeting righty swingers while the Orioles prefer not to spend the $6 million remaining on Morneau's 2013 $14 million salary.

The Rays and Pirates were mentioned as other possible suitors for Morneau by Jim Bowden of Sirius/XM radio, though he'd seem to be an imperfect fit for either one, and it's hard to imagine Tampa Bay in particular paying the $6 million. There's little evidence so far the Pirates are heavily involved to this point.

Twins executives loved that both Twins who were All-Stars, catcher Joe Mauer and Perkins, are Minnesota products who set a splendid example on and off the field and are contracted through at least 2015 (much longer in Mauer's case). Speaking of Perkins, a Twins-conected person said, "He's signed to a very good deal, so he'd take more than anyone's probably willing to give up.''

Perkins will make about $9 million through 2015 and would draw huge interest as he is 1-0 with a 1.82 ERA and 21 saves, but he suggested at the All-Star Game that he isn't expecting to be traded. He said, "I can't worry about it. They're going to do what's best for the team. I'd love to be part of the future. And from what I gather, they feel the same."

Morneau, who is hitting .273 with seven homers and 52 RBI, is the one who's most likely to go, even if the market may not be as strong as the Twins would like it. He and Mauer have been the two faces of the Twins forever, but the team is in rebuilding mode now after a great run that ended in 2011.

Morneau remains much more likely to be dealt than Willingham, who has 10 homers, 37 RBI and a .224 batting average. He is currently out, but the Twins like how he protects their left-handed hitters and love the fact that he's under contract for 2014.

"I've been around long enough not to worry about the speculation," Mauer said. "Obviously, Justin is a good friend of mine and a great teammate. I'd love to play with him the rest of my career."

 
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