Kendrys Morales led the 2013 Seattle Mariners in a number of statistical categories, including batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Perhaps he thought the organization was low-balling him with a one year offer of $14.1 million for the 2014 season. Or perhaps he wanted a long-term deal. Whatever the case, things worked out in favor of the Mariners after they re-acquired the 31-year-old switch-hitting Cuban on July 24, one week before the 2014 MLB trade deadline.
The Mariners sent 2010 fifth-round draft pick, RHP Stephen Pryor, to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Morales. After sitting out close to half of the 2014 season because agent Scott Boras could not get him a contract, Morales instead settled on a $12-million prorated payday that will afford him about $7.4 million in salary for 2014. He suited up in his first game for the Twins on June 9.
Morales may not be a blue-chip bopper like Seattle truly needs, but he is nonetheless familiar with the confines of Safeco Field, he can bat right-handed and he should be more productive in the middle of the M’s lineup as a designated hitter than Corey Hart or Justin Smoak have been.
Giving up only Pryor seems like a small price to pay for a career .277 hitter who at one time finished fifth in AL MVP voting when he was a member of the Angels back in 2009. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik knew it was imperative to make a deal for a middle-of-the-order bat, specifically one with the ability to hit from the right side of the plate. In Morales, they get that, and part ways with only a single pitching prospect — an area the Mariners do not lack depth in. It’s not a blockbuster deal, but Zduriencik still has some valuable bargaining chips to play with if he so chooses.
Morales hit .277 with 23 HRs and 80 RBI for the Mariners in 2013. He’s currently off to a slow start in 2014, but that can be expected when you do not participate in spring training and spend the first two months of the season free from facing big league pitchers, or possibly any live pitching at all.