Kendrys Morales has declined the Mariners’ qualifying offer, according to cbsssports.com baseball reporter Jon Heyman Tuesday. That means that that the designated hitter/first baseman is likely headed to free agency, but does not preclude the Mariners and Morales from reaching a multi-year deal after he surveys the market.
It does mean that Morales, 30, has turned down a one-year deal worth about $13.8 million, which by baseball rules is a qualifying offer equal to the average of the 125 highest salaries in MLB in 2013. Another team outbidding the qualifying offer to sign Morales would owe draft-pick compensation to Seattle.
Declining the offer means Morales and his agent, Scott Boras, are betting there is a multi-year deal in the market for a player who had 23 homers, 80 RBIs and a slash line of .277/.336/.449.
But Morales demonstrated this season that he is probably only an emergency first baseman at best, meaning he’s likely to stay in the American League as a DH. He made $5.25 million in 2013 on a one-year deal after coming to Seattle in a trade with the Anaheim Angels for starting pitcher Jason Vargas.
The Mariners have indicated interest in keeping him, given that they have rarely attracted free-agent hitters in their prime, partly because of the pitcher-friendly park, partly because of Seattle’s geographic isolation and partly because of the Mariners’ propensity to lose. The bad image made worse by a terrible September concluded by manager Eric Wedge walking away, saying he wouldn’t have accepted a five-year deal the way the Mariners were operating the team.
Morales’s best year was 2009 when he hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 RBI.