Now The Morales Debate Is Genuine
The argument was pretty straight forward. Kendrys Morales was the M’s best hitter in 2013, and you have to re-sign your best hitter, right?
Wrong! After Morales rejected Seattles’ qualifying offer of over $14 million for 2014, M’s general manager Jack Zduriencik moved quickly to sign free agent Corey Hart and acquired Twitter guru Logan Morrison.
But the debate didn’t end there.
Many M’s fans still wanted Seattle to sign Morales. I was not one of those people at that point. With Justin Smoak on the roster, the idea of having four 1B/DH type of guys didn’t make sense to me.
Now, both Morrison and Hart are on the DL, leaving Smoak with no backup at first base, which re-opens the theory about Morales, who remains unsigned, returning to the M’s lineup.
Ok, I suppose Willie Bloomquist or even Nick Franklin could play first if necessary, so let’s call it no “legitimate” backup at first base. Here are some arguments both for and against the M’s signing Morales.
Morales does have a great bat. He’s a switch-hitter with decent power. We saw his bat last year. He’s a guy who’s going to bat .270-.280 and hit 15-20 homers for you during a full season.
The M’s are familiar with Morales, and likewise, he is familiar with them. There shouldn’t be any personality issues in the clubhouse.
Morales also is not going to cost $14.1 million anymore. I think the M’s could sign him for the remainder of the season for about $6-$8 million.
The Mariners are likely going to be his only suitor between now and the June draft. If he signs elsewhere after the draft, the Mariners will lose the compensation pick they would have received if he signed before the draft. By signing him now, they put themselves back in the driver’s seat for getting an extra draft pick next year if they don’t re-sign him again for 2015.
Morales is a defensive liability at first base. There is a reason why Smoak played first and Morales hardly ever came out of the DH role in 2013. He knows how to catch the ball when it’s thrown to him at first, but other than that, his glove doesn’t do much.
Morales is a switch hitter, not a righty, and the M’s are still struggling to find a right-handed bat with power in their lineup. Most starters are right handed, so sticking Morales in your lineup doesn’t help with that issue.
Even at a reduced price of $6 million, the M’s might not have that much payroll to spend on Morales. He likely thinks he’ll get more than that if he waits until after the draft so that the team that he signs with doesn’t have to give up a pick.
The X Factor
His name is Xavier Nady and he most recently played with the San Diego Padres. The Mariners just signed him to a minor league deal, and he’s headed to AAA Tacoma.
I would expect that if he hits at all down there in the first few games you’ll see him called up to the M’s.
Nady is a 35-year-old, 12-year veteran, right-handed hitting, first baseman with a pretty decent glove. If he can still hit at all at this point in his career, he could easily be the stop gap between now and Hart returning in 6-8 weeks.
Morales does not want to play in Seattle. If he did, he’d have taken $14 million for the year back in December. The signing of Nady also indicates the M’s have no interest in Morales.
Case closed on Morales once again.
By Signing Xavier Nady, the M’s now have two players with a first name of Xavier on their roster. The other is Xavier Avery.
That’s a team record.