By Brent Stecker
There aren’t a lot of trades that have worked out in the Mariners’ favor over the last decade. However, the Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales swap is one of them.
While southpaw starter Vargas just hit the Angels’ disabled list, first baseman/designated hitter Morales has been one of the few consistent offensive producers for the Mariners. After his dramatic three-run, pinch-hit walkoff home run in Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Athletics, Morales has a .275/.334/.770 slash line with nine homers and 41 RBIs.
And that’s why momentum is building in the fan base for the Mariners to lock up Morales for longer than his current one-year deal, as Bob Stelton and The News Tribune’s Eric D. Williams discuss in the video below.
The interest in a long-term deal is mutual between the team and the 30-year-old Morales, as Mariners insider Shannon Drayer noted when she joined Stelton and Williams on “Bob and Groz” Monday.
“I think both sides like each other,” Drayer said. “I know there’s interest in re-signing (Morales). I don’t know how they go about that, if it’s during the season or if it’s after the season, of if they look to put a qualifying offer on him. There are a variety of things you can do, but this guy’s stepped in and been the bat that you’ve needed for the last five, six years and you haven’t been able to get.”
Morales has gained the appreciation with the Mariners front office and fans because of his professionalism at the plate, and he may come at a cheaper price than expected because of his limitations in the field.
“You have to wonder what the market is going to be for a guy that basically can only be a DH,” Drayer said. “The biggest thing is this guy knows how to hit. He’s not just going up there and hacking. He’s not just a guy that runs into home runs. He’s got a good approach when he comes to the plate.”
The Mariners may also make a run to keep him around because of his leadership qualities.
“He’s a great teammate. Eric Wedge can’t say enough about what he’s done in the clubhouse and in the dugout during games,” Drayer said. “I’ve got players telling me that he’s watching pitchers, studying them, studying video during games when he’s DH-ing, and he goes and he looks at things and he shares it with guys in the dugout. This is a guy that’s had a big impact on and off the field and (is) exactly the guy I think you would want to lock up.”
Stelton and Williams pick up the conversation from there, explaining that locking up Morales could signal a sea change for the Mariners after several failed free-agent signings and trades.