It’s been a strange 9 months to say the least for DH/1B Kendrys Morales, who after all the talk about qualifying offers, draft picks, deadlines and price tags, has now landed back in the greater Northwest as a member of the Seattle Mariners.
Morales, now 31, had a good year on a bad team in 2013 when he hit to a respectable .277/.336/.449 slash line, while also showing decent power hitting in the not-so-hitter-friendly Safeco Field by stroking 23HRs, 34 2Bs, and driving in 80 runs.
Following another fourth place finish by the club to close out the 2013 season, Seattle had a decision to make, to bring back their most productive power hitter, or let him walk via free agency. The club, extended Morales the $14.1 million qualifying offer, which he declined in favor of testing the market for a multi-year deal. However, with his signing attached to draft pick compensation, and his limited ability at first base, clubs shied away from signing switch hitter, who ultimately had to wait until after the MLB first year player draft in June for his phone to ring.
As expected, after the Draft, Morales received a call from the Minnesota Twins, which lead to him sign a prorated one-year deal for roughly $7.5 million.
After a less than stellar 39-games stretch with the Twinkies, Morales accumulated a .234 average with 1 HR and 18 RBI before being dealt back to Seattle on July 24 for right-handed pitcher Stephen Pryor.
The deal, which now seems funny after the drawn out offseason, gives Seattle another bat that they’re very familiar with, and saves Minnesota roughly $4.3 million on a signing that didn’t pan out, while also netting them a hard-throwing young arm.
Pryor, a former 5th round pick in the 2010 draft has accumulated a 3-1 record with a 2.81 ERA over his first 32 career MLB innings. Following the trade, he reported to Minnesota’s Triple-A Rochester affiliate.
For Morales and the Mariners, the deal makes sense…Seattle currently sits 10.5 games behind Oakland in the AL West with a 53-49 record, but remains only 0.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot behind the Angels, Yankees, and Blue Jays.
The Mariners’ pitching staff is keeping the club in the hunt behind another Cy Young worthy campaign from Felix Hernandez, but the homecoming of Morales gives the club another much-needed bat for its, at times, anemic offense.
Morales is five years removed from a fifth place finish in the AL MVP balloting in 2009 when he hit .306 with a .924 OPS while clubbing 34 HRs and 43 2Bs and driving in 108 runs.
The Mariners are currently in the middle of their most competitive season in a while. Making the playoffs would be a welcomed sight for a team that hasn’t been to the postseason since it’s record-setting 2001 year, in which the team finish 116-46 while the world got to watch a newcomer named Ichiro Suzuki take home the Rookie of the Year and MVP honors.