BY Adam Lewis 06:42PM 02/17/2014

Report: Mariners still interested in DH Morales

The Mariners are rumored to have renewed interest in free-agent designated hitter Kendrys Morales after talks with outfielder Nelson Cruz cooled.

Designated hitter Kendrys Morales was a consistent run-producer for Seattle in 2013, but he hasn’t found the contract he wants in free agency. / Wiki Commons

Unsigned designated hitter Kendrys Morales might end up back in Seattle, after all, according to Boston Globe national baseball writer Nick Cafardo.

Morales, 30, was pursued this off-season by the Orioles and Pirates. But for different reasons, both backed off the free agent who hit .277/.336/.449 with 23 home runs and 80 runs batted in last season with the Mariners.

In November, Morales declined the Mariners’ one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer. It was a signal that the Fomento, Cuba, native and his agent, Scott Boras, were looking for a multi-year deal in the free-agent market.

As of Monday night, they hadn’t found one. Nor have the Mariners signed 33-year-old outfielder Nelson Cruz after a deal seemed imminent last week.

Would signing Morales to a multi-year contract make sense?

If he returned to Seattle, it would create more competition at a pair of positions that aren’t settled entering spring training: Designated hitter and first base.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik signed first baseman/DH/outfielder Corey Hart to a one-year, $5 million contract in December. He also traded reliever Carter Capps to the Marlins for left fielder/first baseman Logan Morrison, a once highly touted prospect who was limited the last two seasons by a pair of knee surgeries.

Both acquisitions could take playing time away from incumbent first baseman Justin Smoak, who received an incentive-laden contract over the weekend.

Morales isn’t a candidate to replace Smoak at first base. In limited action there last year, he was immobile and unpolished. His return instead would likely force Hart, who missed all of last season while recovering from microfracture surgery to both knees, to play more outfield.

The thought of Hart (6-feet-6, 235 pounds) roaming Safeco Field’s spacious power alleys doesn’t scare first-year Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon.

He said Sunday he envisions the former Brewer in the outfield and Morrison at first base/DH, though he added that where each plays will be determined after he assesses who is healthiest.


YourThoughts

  • GD

    I’d LOVE to have Morales back. I think with Gutz backing out, and would have been used shuffling through DH duties, Morales is now a very good offensive option. We lost:

    1. 29 HRs out of Ibanez
    2. 23 HRs out of Morales (Switch Hitter)

    By re-signing Morales we have actually “gained” on offense with adding HR potential from: Cano, Hart, and Morrison.

    Our Offense in 2014 with Morales will definitely be a LOT better than 2013, including our HRs. We’ll have great IF defense. OF defense is questionable though, but do feel that Ackley will take over in CF and get better if he is “officially” assigned the CF job. Saunders in CF is only good for a backup, but he’s one of the best corner OFer’s in defense. I think Hart will do just fine in RF, but time will tell on that. Would still LOVE a trade for one of Stanton/Bautista/Rasmus…Would prefer Gomez and his $7.5m salary. I can see one of these OFers as a mid-season trade though to “improve” our OF and solidify a 2nd half run.

    I really like our BP now, and the Rodney will massively improve our BP Setup roles leading to Rodney.

    The huge problem last year was Joe Saunders AND Harang type SPs that forced the BP in too many games too soon. Our current situation is worrisome, but I do feel we “could” manage through June with our current rotation “If” Iwakuma’s doesn’t lose too many chances to play in early April.

    BUT, “if” we can be in the running come June without adding high cost SP’s until July…the situation screems that Seattle WILL add a huge top ace by July via trade (Lee, Hamels, or Price).

    Capauno is an innings eater and will probably get Seattle’s attention for a very reasonable price, and could be a holdover until a substantial mid-season trade for an Ace is made.

    I can see Seattle all in come July on a HUGE trade for BOTH a top OFer from a non-contention team, as well as a top Ace SP.

    Another plus on a July trade for someone like Cliff Lee is that we would only have to pickup 1/2 of his 2014 salary, same applies for a OF type hitter.

  • 1coolguy

    Is Lincoln gone? No?
    Then who cares; it’s another 90+ loss season…………

  • jafabian

    Agreed on Morales being a good option. I don’t think Hart and Morrison are locks to make the team and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do make it if they struggle adjusting to hitting in the AL. At least Morales would most likely make the team and more importantly he was one of the few M’s who hit better at home than on the road. (.282 BA, 12 HRs and .339 OBP at home vs .272, 11hrs and .333 OBP away) I was surprised that the M’s only offered a one year deal to Morales. Don’t blame him for exploring his options though not getting any offers from other AL clubs was surprising as well. I thought at least the Angels would pick him back up. Evidently the spectra of Boras still lives on.

  • RadioGuy

    As Judge Marilyn says on People’s Court, “PAY the man!” The basepaths became a twilight zone when Kendrys was running them last year, but no question he didn’t have a problem hitting at home and he had no injury problem. I’d be a lot less concerned about Morales than I am about Cano bringing his tendency to dog it to Seattle. People jog around Green Lake faster than Cano runs on infield grounders.

    • jafabian

      Since Cano was given such a large contract he’s obviously the one player the franchise believes in. As such he’s going to need protection in the lineup and as of right now Morales is the best option for that role. At this point the club should forget pursuing Cruz. He isn’t the hitter that Morales is and he’s blatanly using the M’s to get a bigger contract from someone. If there’s anything to be learned from the Seahawks it’s how successful a club can be when players aren’t so self-serving.

      • RadioGuy

        No, I wouldn’t bother with Cruz. We’ve already signed two power-hitting, defense-challenged corner outfielders coming off unfulfilling 2013 seasons. From among Cruz, Morrison, Hart and Morales, I’d put my money on Kendrys having a productive 2014 in Seattle…he’s had his own injury issues in the past, but we know what we’re getting with him when he’s healthy.

        I think the Cano signing was as much an act of desperation by the Mariners to upgrade their relevance as it was to address a need for more offense. The thing is, Cano has never been a great drawing card at home or on the road nor someone who can carry a team. He’s a VERY talented player, when inspired, but not the transcendental one you want at $240 million.

        • jafabian

          The Yankees hitting coach reported that Cano didn’t always run hard to 1st when it was a grounder. They’d tell him sure 99% of the time it’s a sure out but it looks bad. Wow…remember those conversations with Junior? If that was the Yankees biggest issue with him, well, I think they had bigger issues than Cano not running hard to first all the time.

          • RadioGuy

            I do remember Junior taking his time strolling down the first base line on routine grounders as well as pulling up on short fly balls to CF. Didn’t happen terribly often, but enough to notice…still, it’s pretty hard to criticize Griffey’s overall body of work on the field.

            It’s not just NY’s hitting coach talking about Cano coasting at times…I’ve been hearing it from fans there for years. It may be another case of just letting the numbers do the talking. I’ll give credit for McClendon firing back, although what else can Lloyd really do? That’s his most expensive everyday player they’re talking about. He can’t exactly shrug it off and say “Oh well.”