The Minnesota Twins are on the fringes of playoff contention right now, at best, hovering around .500 far longer than expected. But they made a move on Saturday that reflects an apparent “win now” mentality with the reported signing of veteran slugger Kendrys Morales.
Morales rejected a qualifying offer from the Seattle Mariners last winter, and any team that signed him since then would have owed the Mariners a draft pick as compensation. But with the draft going on this weekend, the market for Morales’ services was likely to ramp up soon now that teams no longer have to surrender a draft pick.
Morales spent 2013 with Seattle, and he hit .277 with 23 home runs, 34 doubles and 80 RBI along with a .785 OPS. Prior to that he played for the Los Angeles Angels from 2006-2012, with notably productive seasons in 2009 (.306, 34 home runs, 43 doubles and 108 RBI with a .924 OPS) and 2012 (.273, 22 home runs, 73 RBI and a .787 OPS). In between those two seasons in Anaheim, Morales missed a big chunk of the 2010 season and all of 2011 as he recovered from a broken left leg suffered while celebrating a walk-off home run.
Morales is a switch-hitter who can play first base, serve as a designated hitter and he also has experience in the outfield. The Twins have struggled to get production from all of those spots this year, though the recent return of Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia has provided a boost. So the move makes sense, but Morales will not come cheaply, as he’ll make a prorated portion of $12 million ($7.6 million; per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com) for the rest of the season.
The Twins entered Saturday’s action just 2.5 games back in the American League Wild Card standings, so even skeptical fans have to admit they are still theoretically a playoff contender. The looming arrival of Morales seems to signal an end to accepting mediocrity, which is a good thing, so Jason Kubel, Chris Parmelee, or both, may not be long for the major league roster.
According to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Morales will report directly to the Twins upon passing a physical instead of going briefly to the minors. It shouldn’t take long for Morales to become the Twins’ primary designated hitter, even with some likelihood of being eased into the lineup initially. The team will have a decision to make on the 40-man roster in order to make room for Morales, which means Kubel’s reunion with the Twins should be over due to his lack of recent production (.158 with one RBI since May 1).
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.
Check out the upcoming Minnesota Twins schedule to see Morales at Target Field!