The Mariners’ need and the market for Morales
By Shannon Drayer
Update: Scott Boras tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that his remaining free-agent clients are prepared to wait until after the June draft to sign with teams. In light of this development it seems highly unlikely that there will be a reunion between Kendrys Morales and the Mariners. Doubly bad for the Mariners if Morales waits, as they then would not receive the draft pick they would get if he did sign before the draft. As a result, the pick they would forfeit for signing Robinson Cano would be their second-round pick rather than the pick they would gain for Morales signing elsewhere, which would fall between the first and second round.
PEORIA Ariz. – The Mariners have a night game Friday so the notes will come later in the afternoon but I wanted to give you some quick thoughts on the latest from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who reports that while there has been “continuing dialogue” between the Mariners and Kendrys Morales, general manager Jack Zduriencik said they are in two different places when it comes to negotiations.
It makes sense that the Mariners would not completely shut the door on Morales. With their extremely lefty-heavy lineup and not knowing exactly how much righty Corey Hart will be able to play – particularly early in the season coming back from knee surgery – Morales would fill a need. This continues to be an interesting situation. Morales would be a nice fit for the Mariners and it would appear that they are the only fit possibly available for Morales, yet from the sounds of things his agent, Scott Boras, isn’t dealing with Seattle as if it’s the only fit.
Something to keep in mind here: The Mariners have made Morales two offers that I know of that he has turned down, the $14.1 million qualifying offer and a multi-year offer as well. There have been no reports that I have seen of offers from other teams. Interest perhaps, but actual offers? No. So the negotiation at this point most likely have Boras taking the stance that the Mariners need Morales and therefore they should pay X amount, with their stance being that there is no market for Morales so the team will set the amount.
To further muddy the waters, the Mariners most likely are putting a lesser value on Morales in dollars because if they sign him they in a sense lose a draft pick and the dollars to spend on draft picks associated with that pick assuming he signs elsewhere. While it is looking less and less likely that he will sign elsewhere, I would be surprised if the Mariners were not factoring this in to what they perceive to be his value.
I have said since the end of the season – and I believe it still applies – that Zduriencik would like to bring Morales back, but at his price. That price has changed. At one point it was $14.1 million (which makes me wonder what this roster would look like if that money was gone right off the bat at the beginning of this offseason). That number has come down. It has to come down. If Morales were to go out today and pull an Ervin Santana and ask for a do-over and say $14.1 million from any club would get him signed, do you think he would have any takers? How do you put value on something that no one else appears to value?
Does Zduriencik have additional funds available? Well, I would imagine there is something or at least he believes the possibility of something if there is still dialogue. Things could change in the next couple of weeks and perhaps each side is banking on that. Morales could get nervous about not being signed with the regular season getting ever closer and tell Boras to take a deal. Or an injury could hit the Mariners or another team that has question marks regarding offense, suddenly giving Morales more value.
I have no idea if Morales will end up in a Mariners uniform once more. My gut feeling is Boras would rather his client hold out until June, when the draft pick is no longer a factor, but he works for his client. Morales can do what Morales wants to do. How much does he trust his agent to get something significant done in June? How much are the Mariners willing to give him if anything at all and how much would he be looking forward to possibly being in the same situation a year from now? That might not actually be a bad thing as that $14.1 million is probably looking pretty good right now.