Thursday, January 11, 2007

Justin Morneau Tips His Hand in Talks with Twins

As expected, American League MVP Justin Morneau and the Twins are 20 percent apart in salary arbitration, with Morneau asking for $1 million year more than the team's $4 million counter offer.

Negotiations will be completed by next month at the latest, with the team's front office determined to reach an amicable accord with the star first baseman without resorting to potentially recriminating talks before an arbitrator under provisions of baseball's collective bargaining agreement.

The team has a distinct advantage in contract talks as the 25-year-old Morneau, a former hockey player, has already allowed that he has no intention of leaving town even in the long term as he has nearly completed a palatial new home in the St. Paul area. Morneau will share those digs with Rory McDade, 25, who plays lacrosse for the Twin Cities-based Minnesota Swarm, and with whom Morneau played hockey when the two grew up together in their hometown of New Westminster in the frigid Canadian outback.

With that frame of reference, Morneau should be willing to work out a sweetheart deal with the Twins. After all, the British Columbia native has never lost interest in hockey and Minneapolis is the U.S. capital of the sport.

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