A hidden cost if Mariners sign Kendrys Morales

Feb 23, 2014, 8:51 AM | Updated: Feb 24, 2014, 5:05 pm

By Shannon Drayer

PEORIA, Ariz. – There were some questions from some of you about the qualifying offer yesterday and there was something I thought I should point out regarding draft-pick compensation and Kendrys Morales – something that could impact the Mariners’ thinking on possibly signing him. Try and follow. Hopefully I don’t get lost here.

Since the Mariners extended the qualifying offer to Morales, he now has a draft pick attached to him. This no doubt has helped quiet his market. Any team that signs him will lose a draft pick. In a way, this includes the Mariners. How so?

The Mariners will lose a draft pick for signing Robinson Cano. As it stands today, the pick they would lose would be their second-round pick because their first-round pick is high enough to be protected. As of today, the Mariners are down one pick.

If Morales were to sign with another club, the Mariners would receive a compensation pick, which would come between the first and second rounds. They then would have to give up that pick for signing Cano, as it would be their highest non-protected pick. If that were to happen they would basically be back at square one heading into the draft with the same picks they would have had if they had not signed a qualifying offer player or had one of their own qualifying offer players signed. All good.

Now say Morales does not sign with another club and sits out until June, when clubs would be able to sign him without losing a pick. In that case the Mariners would not get the compensation pick and would lose their second-round pick. Heading into the draft they would be down one pick.

Here is the kicker. I think the thought with many has been that one of the reasons why the Mariners should sign Morales is because they will not have to give up a pick. This is true, but they would also not gain the pick they would get if he signed elsewhere, so they would end up in the same boat as if he didn’t sign anywhere. With no compensation pick coming because Morales has signed elsewhere, the pick they would lose for Cano would be their second-round pick.

That pick would be significant in the eyes of scouting director Tom McNamara, who has found players like Taijuan Walker and Brad Miller in that 30-45 pick range. Beyond the value in potential talent in that pick there are dollars under the new CBA slotting rules that pick is tied to as well. You lose the pick, you lose those dollars to spend, and that no doubt comes into play when determining what Morales’ value to the club is, or at what number would his contribution outweigh the loss of the pick.

There is a chance he does not sign anywhere and that would be a lose/lose situation for the Mariners. For now the Mariners must determine the value of Morales vs. the pick, and perhaps they will take some time to do so. Of course, Morales and his agent, Scott Boras, have a seat at the table. We don’t know at this point if they would even come in at a reasonable number. They already have turned down offers from the Mariners. How much does Morales want to play the next three months?

Just something to think about. It is not quite as simple as “just sign him, you need him, he is a bargain.”

Notes

• Felix Hernandez will throw his first live batting practice session today.

• A bit of unexpected but good news this morning, as Stephen Pryor’s name was on the board to throw a bullpen. It will be his first of the spring. Pryor is coming back from surgery to repair a triceps injury and is not expected to be ready to join the team until May at the earliest.

• How much of a competition at first base is there? Logan Morrison has been taking reps at first with Justin Smoak, but as Smoak said earlier this spring, it is his position to lose. Manager Lloyd McClendon answered today what he did to make Smoak feel like he still belongs after the additions of Morrison and Corey Hart.

“I told him he’s my first baseman,” he said. “But having said that he’s still got to go out there and perform.”

McClendon has been working with Smoak during batting practice and he likes what he has seen so far.

“The key has been cleaning up his path to the ball. Understanding what the proper path will do for you in the strike zone. I think he has bought into that and we might have something. We’ll see. It’s in there, and we have got to get it out of him.”

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