Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik was always up front about liking Kendrys Morales and hoping that he’d be back after last year. Seattle made an offer believed to be for three years and $30 million before the season ended, the $14.1 million qualifying offer was extended and other offers were discussed between October and right up until when Morales signed for $7.4 million with the Twins in June.
After all of that, he’s back with the Mariners for two months and perhaps a bit longer in exchange for $4.3 million and reliever Stephen Pryor.
What a strange path.
The Mariners dealt from an area of strength to fill a desperate need and I hardly believe that Zduriencik high-fived his assistants and headed out for a long weekend after the deal was done. There are still moves to be made, but what he has done is something – a doable move that doesn’t cost the Mariners an irreplaceable piece.
While Morales has struggled with the Twins, hitting just .234/.259/.325/.584 over his last 39 games, he is worth the gamble assuming the Mariners still have payroll flexibility for the right player.
Morales is in a do-or-die position in his career. He sat out the majority of the year after not getting offered what he believed he deserved. Baseball clearly didn’t agree with his assessment or that of his agent, Scott Boras. He now has just over two months to put up numbers, change those minds and give himself a chance at even a decent contract next year.
If you are concerned about Morales not wanting to be here – and I am not sure that is even true as he made some interesting comments about miscommunication in his latest negotiation with the Mariners – it should be relevant now. The only thing Morales should be worried about now is getting the bat going.
Seattle is giving him the opportunity to do that in a familiar and perhaps even comfortable place. Interestingly enough, the limited success he has had since signing with the Twins came at Safeco Field earlier this month when he drove in five runs on five hits – including three doubles – during a four-game series against the Mariners. He will need to do more of that if he wants to avoid another “interesting” offseason.
The Mariners need offensive help. Morales could be part of the solution, but by no means is he the solution. He is, however, one of the bats that Robinson Cano said he would like to see the team bring in last spring.
This is a start.