There have been articles written by a few major outlets over the last few days suggesting that the Pittsburgh Pirates should make a play on Kendrys Morales to compete for the starting first-base job.
If anyone noticed, an article was published on Jan. 20 regarding the depth chart at first base and Morales wasn’t even mentioned. This was not by accident, it was by design.
The Pirates aren’t going to make a move on Morales, and even if they did, there are other teams in more dire need for his services than Pittsburgh. Anyone with a basic economics class knows what happens to price when demand is high and resources are limited — yep, right outside of the Pirates price range he goes.
Morales would be a great addition to the Pirates if they played in the American League, as Morales is a textbook DH-type player. In fact, over the last two seasons, that’s what his primary role has been, first with the Los Angeles Angels and then last year with the Seattle Mariners.
Morales had another solid year last season, though, posting a triple slash of .277/.336/.449 and 23 home runs. In the three years prior, he homered 22, 11 and 34 times, respectively. He’s a switch hitter. He’s not terribly old at 31, so what’s the problem?
Well, there are a couple. First, and perhaps most notable, Scott Boras is Morales’ agent. This means that Morales will likely go to the team willing to pay the most for his services. Now, how many times can you recall the Pirates winning a bidding war? Exactly.
Secondly, any prospective team that signs him will have to part ways with a first-round draft pick for Morales. This is something the Pirates simply shouldn’t do, as they’d effectively be mortgaging the future away. They are going to need that pick to fill a hole at third base where it appears no viable option exists for life after Pedro Alvarez.
Finally, the Pirates made some offseason moves at first base. First, they just let a Morales-type guy walk out the door in Garret Jones, who has similar numbers and is not horrible defensively, with the flexibility to play an outfield position as well. Additionally, the Pirates acquired Travis Ishakawa and Chris McGuiness to fill a platoon spot with Gaby Sanchez. Andrew Lambo will get a serious look as well.
The Pirates have options at first base, and they can probably find better ways to drop $5 million, perhaps someone to play third base when a lefty is on the bump.