Get Comfortable, Kendrys Morales

By now, the “Kendrys Morales is this year’s Kyle Lohse” jokes are already stale, but the point remains: Just as we saw with Lohse last year, a decent-yet-hardly-elite player is going to get weighed down by the anchor of the qualifying offer placed upon him. Not only does the offer drop the cost of a draft pick on Morales, but it sets the baseline of a $14.1 million salary, and while there’s nothing that says he can’t ultimately accept less than that, the fact that he’s a Scott Boras client makes it incredibly unlikely.

As you’d expect, the proclamations for his future are getting dire, especially now that the Mariners — the only team who wouldn’t need to surrender a pick for him, of course — went out and added Corey Hart and Logan Morrison to a roster that already had Justin Smoak (and, somewhere, Jesus Montero). One unnamed GM told Peter Gammons that he “can’t see Morales signing until after the [June] draft,” when the compensation pick would disappear, which seems a bit drastic, but Buster Olney’s suggestion of “February or March” looks absolutely reasonable.

Boras eventually found Lohse a home in Milwaukee days before the 2013 started, and he’ll do the same here eventually. So let’s play along: Where can Morales land in 2014?

First and foremost, we have to figure out what Morales is, and that’s surprisingly easy. In the two full seasons he’s had since returning from that broken ankle that cost him all of 2011, he’s put up wRC+ of 118 (Angels, 2012) and 116 (Mariners, 2013). His career average is — wait for it — 117. Steamer thinks he’s going to be at 120 next year; Oliver, 118. There’s really not a whole lot of variance there, and while he won’t keep up that pace forever, one’s age-31 season isn’t usually when a sudden breakdown occurs.

Let’s consider him primarily a DH for the moment, and realize that there’s actually some value here. A wRC+ of 117 is somewhat above average, yet doesn’t seem all that special, especially for a player who adds no value on the basepaths or on defense. Then again, do remember how many American League teams struggled to even make it to that level out of the position:

2013
wRC+
Primary DH
Red Sox
152
Ortiz
Blue Jays
139
Encarnacion / Lind
Indians
120
Santana / Giambi
Mariners
116
Morales
Royals
115
Butler
Twins
114
Doumit / Willingham
Tigers
111
Martinez
Angels
107
Pujols / Hamilton
Rays
106
Scott
Athletics
103
Smith
Astros
98
Carter / Pena
White Sox
94
Dunn / Konerko
Rangers
91
Berkman
Orioles
87
Valencia / Reimold
Yankees
87
Hafner

There’s really only three teams where Morales wouldn’t have been some level of improvement last year, which I’m guessing is fewer than you might have guessed, and all three of those teams will return their primary designated hitters. In theory, that means that 11 other teams (excluding the Mariners here) should have some level of interest. In practice, Kansas City is set at 1B/DH with Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler, while Detroit has Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez and the White Sox just added Jose Abreu to their Paul Konerko / Adam Dunn combo.

Absent the existence of the qualifying offer, you could argue that eight teams should have interest, but now we’re in to the part of the market where the qualifying offer continues to be nothing but a tax on players — and not all players, just a very specific subset of players who weren’t traded and might have made eight digits annually in the market. (There’s a reason why not a single player has accepted the offer in the two years of its existence.) While a wRC+ in the 115-120 range is hardly star-level — Morales tied for 69th last year with guys like Billy Butler, Juan Uribe, and Ian Desmond — it’s still above-average, and you can see a number of those teams willing to add Morales at the right price.

But then, who is going to surrender a first-round pick for a player like this? Of the AL teams we haven’t yet eliminated, only the Astros, Twins, and Yankees either have a protected first-round pick or have already lost it via other signings.

Looking at those others, do the Rays strike you as a team likely to give up a first rounder, especially after giving James Loney three years? Not really. Nor do the A’s, who have more than enough moving parts to staff DH after trading Seth Smith and rarely go after guys like Morales anyway. While the Angels could probably use someone to share first and DH with Albert Pujols, you’d hope they’d have learned their lesson about what happens when you endlessly dump first round picks by now.

The other two, Baltimore and Texas, have better arguments to make. Baltimore’s DH group, led by Danny Valencia, was atrocious last year and still ranks as last among AL teams in our current positional projections, though some reports indicate they’re not interested; Texas may want to improve on Mitch Moreland as a Prince Fielder complement, but isn’t likely to make a move unless they lose a pick for signing Shin-Soo Choo first.

Back to the three teams with protected picks, the Twins probably should be all over this, because a Ryan Doumit / Chris Colabello / whomever else compilation at DH seems dreadful, and they seem to have some interest in competing in 2014 after signing Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Mike Pelfrey. But it’s uncertain how much they have left to spend after that trio, and there’s been almost nothing linking them with Morales so far anyway. Houston could conceivably see Morales as a decent trade chip for mid-season, but is more likely to just use Chris Carter at DH.

And then there’s the Yankees, who are in the odd position of not having a productive DH while also potentially not having space for Morales. Considering their never-ending collection of elderly ballplayers who can’t be in the field seven days a week — with Brian Roberts joining Derek Jeter, Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano, Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, and (maybe) Alex Rodriguez — one would think that they have more than enough names to circulate through the DH spot. Then again, draft picks are of no consideration to them at this point, they had the worst DH production in the game last year, and Mark Teixeira is hardly bulletproof at first base, either.

We’ll hear NL teams getting into the mix from time to time, but Morales simply can’t be in a place where he needs to wear a glove more than once a week, and while there’s certainly options here — Baltimore, Texas, and the Yankees probably ranking the most highly — there’s no perfect solution. That puts Morales in a very uncomfortable position, since not only is he likely to be unemployed for weeks or months to come, his best bet might be the same way that Boras got Fielder his mega-deal with Detroit: an unfortunately timed winter or early spring injury causing desperation. (Or otherwise having the remaining qualifying offer guys like Choo, Ervin Santana, Nelson Cruz, and Ubaldo Jimenez falling in such a way that a particular team no longer cares about losing another draft pick.)

That’s unfortunate for Morales, a reasonably valuable player who could provide one to two wins in the right situation, yet one who now finds himself unable to get his true market value thanks to the oddities of the qualifying offer.



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Mike Petriello used to write here, and now he does not. Find him at @mike_petriello or MLB.com.


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mario mendoza
Guest
mario mendoza
2 years 9 months ago

All of this should’ve been readily apparent to Boras and Morales before they turned down the QO.

Not only won’t Morales make 14MM this year, I doubt he manages to total 25MM over the next THREE years with this strategy.

Brandon Firstname
Guest
Brandon Firstname
2 years 9 months ago

The only thing stupider than the Mariners making Morales a qualifying offer was him not accepting it.

Looks like the pride of Boras got in his own way this time. Then again Boras may be able to pull this one out, but I have serious doubts.

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

I would be very surprised if Boras didn’t advise his client to take the QO in this case.

You have to remember, he’s an advisor. He doesn’t make the decisions.

BubbaBiscuit
Member
BubbaBiscuit
2 years 9 months ago

Not sure about that, this looks like more ammo for Boras’s fight against this whole QO system. He has been very vocal against it from the beginning and also could not have the only player ever to accept the offer be one of his clients.

Steve
Guest
Steve
2 years 9 months ago

Why was it stupid for the Mariners to make the offer?

That makes no sense.

If someone caves and signs him, they get a draft pick. If he doesn’t, no cost to them.

Even if he had ACCEPTED, it wouldn’t have been a bad outcome.

Jack Zduriencik
Guest
Jack Zduriencik
2 years 9 months ago

Oh yes it would’ve been. The man isn’t worth 14.1 million per year.

The Real Jack Z
Guest
The Real Jack Z
2 years 9 months ago

Look at all those homers and RBIs! We can fit him in at shortstop.

Steve
Guest
Steve
2 years 9 months ago

It’s a one year commitment for a player that is better than the one they signed to replace him.

They just dropped $6 billion dollars on Cano, who cares if they “overpay” a 1Bman by $2M?

And since he declined the QO, then it seems like they read the situation correctly, and it was very smart to make the offer. Strange argument. How many Boras clients have accepted QO’s?

Joebrady
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

“They just dropped $6 billion dollars on Cano, who cares if they “overpay” a 1Bman by $2M?”

Maybe because he is not a 1B.

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar
2 years 9 months ago

It’s simply whack job nuts folks keep banging the ‘he shudda taken the offer’ number. No, absolutely he should _NOT_ have. Why? This is the one time in his career that Kendrys Morales has a shot a a _MULTI-YEAR_ contract. Multiple years are more total dollars. Multiple years are a serious committment of playing time too, which matters a lot, especially to a guy who is bat-only. What is it about the word ‘guaranteed’ that isn’t comprehended by folks not on Kendrys’ side of the table? In the end, Kendrys will get a multi-year deal.

If Morales had taken one year, and had so-so results or gotten injured, he would _never_ again have a good shot at a multi-year deal. He would have to take one-year deals, and prove himself in Spring Training every year from here on out. And those delas would be well under $10M per annum, at least as far as the guarantee. Essentially, Kendrys would see his ‘quote’ drop substantially—and permanently. Even if Morales took the offer and had a good year, he would be in much the same situation as this year, the Mariners could extend him another QO. Except he’s a year older then.

There was no upside whatsoever for Kendrys Morales to take a one-year offer. The only circumstance under which it would have made sense to take that would have been if Kendrys was either injured or coming off such a bad year that he needed a pillow contract situation. But that wasn’t the case.

Don’t be surprised if Morales ends up back with the Mariners, either. Kendrys has the lowest ISO of his career, by .20. Start of a decline, or just normal variation? I’ll take the over, with Kendrys likely to hit at least as well for another year or two. Subtract Smoak and add back Morales while finding a real outfielder would be no bad deal. I’d be happy with the pick here as an alternative, either first round or supplemental. Morales has real value; not a huge ceiling, not over 4+ years, with the right roster fit only. But he’ll find a place and play, with multi-year money guaranteed.

Bill
Guest
Bill
2 years 9 months ago

This is likely the reason he declined the offer, but it is very pessimistic for a 31 year DH to believe he has peaked. If he had taken the 14 million, has a comparable season to this past year, as he most likely will, he would be in a position to get a nice multi-year deal in ’14. As it is, any deal he gets will be tempered by the compensation pick and the lack of suitors.

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar
2 years 9 months ago

If he has a good year, he’s a 32-year old even more probably DH stone certain to have a qualifying offer hung on him after 2014. What’s different in that? Yes, maybe Kendrys rakes so fine he’s in big money; if not, he’s deep in manure and never going to get an eight-figure offer again. Handicap the downside as well as the upside. What did Chris Young sign for this offseason?—And he’s a defensive plus at a crucial field position!

wally
Guest
wally
2 years 9 months ago

That makes no sense to me what so ever. To date Kendrys Morales has made $13.5M playing baseball. In one year he’d double his life earnings if he took the QO. If you look around, its pretty easy to see that the difference between having $14M and $28M is still very large, and after you take about 50% out for taxes, its more like $7M and $14M. That jump is still pretty large and with QO its CERTAIN, which is a very important point.

Now without the QO, he had to know his list of suitors is low because of his relatively limited value (DH only) and the loss of a pick. So, he’s really not looking at getting 3+ years on a contract. Most organization have some sort of internal option to get 1-2 WAR out of a bat-only player. Or at the very least, they should have the ability to turn a few half decent AAA players into one with a trade and maybe a couple million bucks. The 1-2 WAR DH-only is the position player equivalent of middle relief. Its the easiest position fill because A) you can pull from the entire pool of hitters since no glove is required and B) 1-2 WAR isn’t much, your best hitter in AAA should generally be able to do that.

So the idea that he was going to get more than $14M in total dollars, even in multi-year deal, was far from certain. And that’s the really issue, certainty. Maybe Morales gets lucky and a team that wants to compete loses a DH/1B and suddenly has a whole to fill and a decent contract can be found, but that was far from certain when he declined the QO. And any team that isn’t going to compete really shouldn’t be interested in a player like Morales, since, as I said, most teams can get the same or close to it product from their best OF/1B/DH bat in AAA for $500K if they bring him up.

So what was this multi-year deal value, say 2x10M or something, but what was the chance it actually happened? I can’t even put 50-50 on it in my head. More like 25-75 (for-against). It seems to me he was most likely going to make less in 2 years without the QO than he would make in one year with the QO. So, why even worry about where this puts him next year? With that math anything you make next year is all gravy anyway. If you flame out or get injured, at least you got the $14M while you could, and now you can try to fight back with $4M year-to-year deals. Or you have a better year and maybe a multi-year, 8 digit deal is more likely….Either way its all up side.

Joebrady
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

“If he has a good year, he’s a 32-year old even more probably DH stone certain to have a qualifying offer hung on him after 2014. What’s different in that?”

If he makes $14.1M this year, and gets another QO next year for probably ~ 5% more, he’ll have earned ~ $29M/2. I doubt he’d earn that even over three years right now. That’s why some FAs don’t receive a QO. The team doesn’t want to go through a series of one-year $14M+ agreements for players only worth $10M.

Dag Gummit
Guest
Dag Gummit
2 years 8 months ago

I don’t know if that’s an appropriate assessment, Joe. After all, in continuing the comparisons with Lohse, we see that even he got 3/$33M deal. Given how many of the late-signings last year shook down into that range, I’d figure something in that ballpark for Morales wherever he ends up signing.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 9 months ago

Players don’t look at AAV so much as total dollars guaranteed. A 2 year deal at 25 might be better than 1 yr at 14 million, and 3 yrs at 30 million might be better than 1/14 also.

Morales will be signed, it makes no difference when you sign, December or March. Heck, he could make more waiting for June 15 when some contender loses a key 1B/DH . Boras gets it, patience pays.

Shankbone
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

This is a good point. Also, if Morales takes the QO, that might be his last crack at a 8 figure salary. He is almost forced because of his age and experience to try and break out of where he is. Its not going to change next year, if he performs they’ll slap the QO right back on him. In a way its kind of a screwy move by the FO, but within their rights. You know every player on the cusp like this is furious with the comp sapping value.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 9 months ago

pft, I think the main issue is that people don’t think he’d be able to get close to 2 years and $25MM, or 3 years and $30MM. If those offers were on the table, then it’s much more acceptable to turn down the QO. But if he winds up with 2 years and $16-18MM, I don’t see that as a win for him.

Having said that, it’s always amusing to read articles and comments about this in December, as if Boras has finally messed up. Then a month or two later, he signs a nice deal for his client and everybody wonders how it happened. I can’t criticize him for rejecting the QO until he signs a bad contract.

attgig
Guest
attgig
2 years 9 months ago

“(There’s a reason why not a single player has accepted the offer in the two years of its existence.)”

Can you expound on that? What’s the reason? For Kendrys’ case, I would think it could possibly have made some sense…

jdbolick
Member
Member
2 years 9 months ago

When players reach free agency they appear to look for the security of long-term deals. I can’t recall an average or better player who wasn’t coming off an injury or terrible season that accepted a one year deal. That approach could change as MLB players and agents become more familiar with it, sort of like tagged NFL players.

Catoblepas
Guest
Catoblepas
2 years 9 months ago

It also seems to me that teams are pretty cautious about making them. There haven’t been many situations like Morales’s where the team offers $14m/1 to a guy who won’t get more than that easily, either with the original team or not, in which case the QO is costless upside.

Joebrady
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

Yup, I thought this was the obvious answer. Like any market-price adjustment, it takes time to find out what equilibrium is.

I’d guess answer #2 is that the price tag is a bigger risk for some than for others.

spmccaul
Member
spmccaul
2 years 9 months ago

If Morales wants to be successful he needs to learn defense. Natural selection at its finest, bye bye Kendrys.

Darwin
Guest
Darwin
2 years 9 months ago

Natural selection has nothing to do with an individual.

nada
Guest
nada
2 years 9 months ago

except that part where individuals are selected against if they are not sufficiently fit. That kinda has to do with individuals.

Darwin
Guest
Darwin
2 years 9 months ago

No no, reread the original statement. Natural selection “survival of the fittest” does not explain the individual, Kendrys Morales, success or failure here in this market. Saying so is a misunderstanding of Darwin.

Careless
Guest
Careless
2 years 9 months ago

I shouldn’t need to tell Darwin this, but evolution happens at the level of the individual. It either succeeds and lives/breeds, or fails and does not.

Survival of the fittest doesn’t explain it, it just is it.

Corey
Guest
Corey
2 years 9 months ago

Darwin,

Why are you referring to yourself in the 3rd person? Or are you Darwin Barney talking about Charles Darwin?

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
2 years 9 months ago

Careless,

Evolution happens at the level of the population. Evolution is a change in allele frequency over time (with time in generations).

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
2 years 9 months ago

The “levels of selection” debate (i.e. gene, individual, and group) is not really settled science. Population geneticists generally think of selection working on alleles in populations, since that is the only way the math works. Darwin, working in the days before genes were even known, thought selection worked on individuals in populations.

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=Levels+of+selection&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C33&as_sdtp=

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar
2 years 9 months ago

Kendrys was a decent defensive 1bman before he broke his ankle. Even then one of the slowest baserunners in the majors, he still had positive defensive numbers. With his ankle really in a different state after his rehabbing it, it may not be physically possible for Morales to be a positive defender again, so it’s not a matterof ‘learning’ as insulting implied. Myself, I suspect that Morales playes at least as much at first base as DHs over the next three years; if his body will take it. And his numbers may well be passable. The Mariners didn’t handle him at all well in that regard in 2013 because they wanted to give PT in the field to someone else, then rushed Morales out there without a break when Someone Else was sent down, then never made an attempt to work Morales back into the position during well-chosen games or innings. A team with a multi-year commitment to Kendrys may make better decisions about utilization, and better prepare him for it. Writing him off as DH-only really is a proved situation; yet. He will end his career that way, and maybe be DH-only after 2014, but he hasn’t been out there enough innings to prove anything about what residual capacity he still possesses to still field.

Kendrys isn’t going to ‘learn’ to be a fast runner though. His genes didn’t give him that option.

Willis
Guest
Willis
2 years 9 months ago

I don’t get it. Morales still hit 23 homers and batted near .280. He’s definitely worth it. A draft pick shouldn’t be a hinderance, at all.

spmccaul
Member
spmccaul
2 years 9 months ago

Yeah, 80 RBIs is definitely worth an offer!!!

Bobby Ayala
Member
Member
2 years 9 months ago

80 RBIs on the Mariners is something you could actually argue as a reason to pay him.

carp4prez
Member
carp4prez
2 years 9 months ago

Is that you, Scott Boras?

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 9 months ago

His fielding % last year was .997!

Westside guy
Member
Member
Westside guy
2 years 9 months ago

He was a lot like the situation with Mike Sweeney (back when he was a Mariner) in that Kendrys’ body couldn’t handle playing first with any regularity. Regardless of his skill level (which wasn’t anything special) – his body simply didn’t hold up well when he had to don a glove for several games in a row last year.

wally
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

Hand that man a gold glove. Then put him next to Palmero.

Joebrady
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

He had a .781 OPS. That’s not a huge number. The RS got that from both Nava and Carp in part-time roles, plus the flexibility to play other positions.

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar
2 years 9 months ago

Hitting in Safeco is a depressor on your numbers, while hitting in Fenway is an accelerator. Of course, considering context would mess with your premise. Kendrys did not have a great year in 2013, he only had a good one. That’s fair; his numbers didn’t shine they only had a modest glow.

The point, skated over by many, is that 2013 is not necessarily a good index for projecting Kendrys over the next few years. Morales was in a new park. He had the DH penalty for his numbers as seldom in the field. He hit OK at Safeco Field, but it wasn’t a park that particularly helped him either. 2013 was in fact below Kendrys’ norms in several respects. Morales’ contract negotiations now are impacted by the fact that he had a solid-not-great year, but frankly Kendrys could easily deliver an ISO of .200 while hitting close to .300, or better for several years. Or he could be already declining, I’m not going to say I know which. Anyone taking 2013 as it was THE read on his performance for the next two years is making the mistake though, to me. And again, he _may_ be a DH only, but I suspect that he can play at least half time at 1B IF his body will take it, so let’s not erase any defensive possibility completely until that is proven. It seems completely ignored that Morales played entirely at 1B in the second half of 2012 when Pujols went down, hit really well practically carrying the Angels into the playoffs, and that was a year closer to his injury. The Mariners simply did not utilize Kendrys well, and then were desperate to have his bat in the line-up in the second half and so neither rested him nor worked him back onto the field. Somebody else who treats him like an asset is likely to maximize his return a good deal better than the mooks that decide things here in Seattle.

Again, look at the performance of American League DHs for 2013 listed int he post: Morales was third there in a not particularly outstanding year for him. There is real value in his bat, and someone will sign him for it. If properly utilized in a favorable park, he’ll reward that investment too, in my view. Having watched him fora year, he knows how to hit. Morales is a better hitter, easily than either Carp or Nava. I like him more than Billy Butler for that matter.

Pumpsie Green
Guest
Pumpsie Green
2 years 9 months ago

Does anyone know if MLB has forbade a contract to exclude the possibility of a qualifying offer? If not, along with no-trade clauses I think we’ll see ‘no-qualifying-offer’ clauses in contracts from now on. I can’t believe an agent hasn’t brought the argument forward that since the new CBA was signed after their client’s current contract, and because they didn’t have a chance to write the ‘no-offer’ clause in the existing contract, they should be grandfathered out of that specific provision. At least, that’s what I would argue.

Brooksie
Guest
Brooksie
2 years 9 months ago

Carlos Beltran had such a deal with San Francisco before he signed his FA contract with St. Louis. Unclear as to whether the new CBA would supersede that, but it’s a good point to bring up.

The QO sure looks like its primary intent is cost control for mid-tier free agents, and if so, it’s working.

MNB
Guest
MNB
2 years 9 months ago

The new CBA does indeed explicitly bar such a contract clause.

Jason Collette
Member
Member
2 years 9 months ago

Given the Rays underwhelming performance with their 1st rd picks since Price was taken, it at least passes a sniff test.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 9 months ago

That would be a bad reason to justify the signing – previous picks sometimes didn’t work, ergo we don’t really need them going forward. It would be a very anti-Rays move (who depend on young, cost-controlled talent to compete more so than their spendier AL East brethren).

tim beckham
Guest
tim beckham
2 years 9 months ago

have you seen the last five years of Rays drafts?

Steve
Guest
Steve
2 years 9 months ago

You mean since the Rays stopped getting top 5 picks every year and have had to pick at the end of the first round, the quality of their picks has decreased??

Buster Posey
Guest
Buster Posey
2 years 9 months ago

Not entirely true.

Brian
Guest
Brian
2 years 9 months ago

I’ve never had anything against Morales, but I find myself actively rooting for this to work out very poorly for him (and by very poorly, I mean he only makes 100 times what I make next year, and not 400 times).

Boris Chinchilla
Guest
Boris Chinchilla
2 years 9 months ago

Aw cmon, now. He already paid a big price for over celebrating his game winner against the Mariners, lost a year and half. There shouldn’t have been much of a reason to celebrate beating a bad team. Especially in the early/mid part of season

Erik
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

I challenge anyone who just hit a walk off grand slam to show restraint and not jump on home plate.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 9 months ago

Todd Zeile made the same exact challenge back in the ’99 playoffs.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 9 months ago

First of all, I don’t think the Kyle Lohse analogy applies at all. Lohse is certainly not great and, as a Cards fan, I’ve been pretty critical of him in the past but he’s still much better than Morales. Morales hasn’t reached even 2 WAR since 2009. He can hit a little, but he’s not great and can’t even play defense at the easiest position on the defensive spectrum. Lohse is, at least, decent. Moreover, 30 teams in baseball could probably use a starting pitcher, even if they didn’t want to pay Lohse’s price or give up the draft pick. At most, Morales is marketable to only 15 teams and, as you point out, not even at least 3-4 of those. There really is no comparison between the two.

Lawn Chair
Guest
Lawn Chair
2 years 9 months ago

I would say Lohse is better than decent. He has beat his FIP three years in a row now covering 598 IP. His RA9 WAR over the past three years has been: 2.7, 5.2 and 3.7. That’s 17th best in baseball over the past three years. He is almost certainly not that good, but he is still significantly better than Morales.

Eric R
Guest
Eric R
2 years 9 months ago

“We’ll hear NL teams getting into the mix from time to time, but Morales simply can’t be in a place where he needs to wear a glove more than once a week, ”

He has a career +7.7 UZR/150 in 2200-some-odd innings at first base. Granted, that is only ~1.5 years worth of innings spread out over a bunch of years, but should that sample size put him at the level of at least average-ish?

maguro
Guest
maguro
2 years 9 months ago

It’s more the idea that his body can’t handle playing the field every day than that he’s particulary terrible at playing firstbase.

Boris Chinchilla
Guest
Boris Chinchilla
2 years 9 months ago

Body can’t take the pounding, see ankle explosion hr celebration

ankle explosion hr celebration
Guest
ankle explosion hr celebration
2 years 9 months ago

“ankle explosion hr celebration” is my new favorite phrase and user-name. Thank you for that.

bonilla
Guest
bonilla
2 years 9 months ago

Uh… what? First of all, I don’t know what rare genetic condition he has that makes him so fragile as to be unable to play first base. Second of all, he has already played entire seasons at 1B in his career (152 G for the Angels in 2009, with a +5.6 UZR).

I’m not a huge Morales fan, but I’m a little baffled why this article automatically assumes that he cannot be a 1B for an NL team. Maybe he’s not as good as his career +7.7 UZR/150 suggests, ok, but I see no evidence that he is so terrible to be beyond consideration. Especially considering the existing 1B market.

maguro
Guest
maguro
2 years 9 months ago

2009 was before his ankle exploded.

Matt
Guest
Matt
2 years 9 months ago

Best part of this article: Angels, with Pujos/Hamilton: barely above average. That’s value!

LantermanC
Guest
LantermanC
2 years 9 months ago

“especially for a player who adds no value on the basepaths.”
Not only does he not add value on the base paths, but he’s atrocious. Since 2008, he is bottom 10 with -27 runs. If he played more games, say at a 75% clip, he would be the worst base runner in the league.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 9 months ago

or managed to get on base more often…

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
2 years 9 months ago

Would the draft pick compensation still be in effect if a team signed Morales to a minor league deal and then signed him to a major league deal after the draft?

tjk
Member
tjk
2 years 9 months ago

The Orioles were atrocious at DH last year, but for Valencia’s sake I’d like to point out he had a 140 wRC+ last year so it wasn’t his fault in particular. He’s useful in a platoon situation. Reimold/Urrutia/Dickerson though, yeah they dragged it down.

eddiegaedel
Member
eddiegaedel
2 years 9 months ago

The Brewer’s might be the team to pick up the contract if no one else will much like they did with Kyle Lohse. Although he isn’t a prime candidate for 1B, the Brewers are empty there. Perhaps they get him on a 2 years, 12m AAV if no one else wants him. The Twins are the most logical fit but it seems like they are prioritizing pitching free agents and developing hitters internally. Baltimore also makes sense but they don’t seem like the type of team to overpay for a player.

Joebrady
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

If they were going to spend $24M, I think they’d be better off asking the RS if they’d trade Carp, or ask Seattle if they want to trade off one of their 3 1Bs.

Jim
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

I don’t understand why he turned down the QO. It must be a pride thing like NFL players getting upset with the Franchise Tag. For an average 2 win player like Morales accepting the QO is a good deal to me. It allows you to earn an above average $14.1 million salary for 2014 and also gives you freedom. You either become a free agent with no draft pick attached next year or the Ms would have had to tag you again with the QO which will probably exceed $15 million. Plus you would have been locked in November and not dangly in the wind until February which now seems inevitable.

Jason
Guest
Jason
2 years 9 months ago

It seems like a waste to hire Scott Boras only to have him tell you a week into free agency that he’s exhausted all your options and advises you to take the qualifying offer. At worst, he should be able to get something close to 1/14 later in the off-season so why not let things play out? Maybe the Yankees decide to spend more money or someone pulls a V-Mart and is out for the season.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 9 months ago

He might not like Seattle. There are better parks in which to put up better numbers on a 1 yr deal that can enhance your value. If he played for the Rangers, White Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays or Orioles he would hit 40 HR and have a 900+ OPS. Unfortunately those teams are either cheap or have no openings, but maybe an injury in ST will change things.

Bill
Guest
Bill
2 years 9 months ago

He liked Seattle just fine. There’s no way he would have hit 40 homers in a different park. Safeco isn’t THAT bad. I would have been fine with the Mariners bringing him back.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 9 months ago

Yeah, methinks 40+ HR overstates his offense juuuuust a tad.

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

I’ve never understood why MLB made the compensation rules the way they did. Penalizing the signing team makes no sense to me.

The point of the rule is to help keep teams that can’t afford to keep their stars competitive. Not to punish FAs and big market teams.

maguro
Guest
maguro
2 years 9 months ago

No, the point of the rule is to restrain FA salaries.

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

It doesn’t do that at all though. It only restrains the salaries of middle tier FAs.

I doubt the pick affected Cano’s contract at all.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 9 months ago

Restraining some salaries is better than none. So long as the MLBPA sits back and accepts it, they will take advantage of it. Compensation should be a 1 time thing only, after the first time a player is a FA, there should be no compensation. What is Seattle being compensated for again anyways?. Same with Drew (Boston) and Beltran (St Louis). Ellsbury and Cano you understand, since both players were drafted and developed by the team that lost them.

DINGERS!
Guest
DINGERS!
2 years 9 months ago

WAR is an imperfect component, but when most of the league uses it and understands that 1 WAR costs 6-8 million a year in Free Agency, they start to understand the importance of the draft. ESPECIALLY when 1st round picks are HALF of the draft budget!
Boras loused up BIG TIME. Morales is a nice player to have, but now his market is limited to AL teams that finished in the bottom 10! NO WAY he goes to NY, they won’t have room under the luxury tax until ARod’s suspension is upheld!
Enjoy your time off Kendrys, you can afford it!

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 9 months ago

Why do you think Boras made the decision here, and not Morales himself?

Boras is supremely competent, and I really doubt he thought Morales was going to get more than $14M.

jessef
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

I think a better question would be to ask why Morales would pay Boras to be his agent but would not take his advice on whether to accept the offer.

stevenam
Guest
stevenam
2 years 9 months ago

I don’t think the issue here is Boras’ competence. It’s more a matter of his fearlessness/irresponsibility. As we learned from JD Drew, Boras doesn’t hesitate to “shoot the hostage” in order to further his agenda. In principal, he would never advise a client to accept a QO when he’s been so dead-set against them.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 9 months ago

I laugh when people jump on Boras for being dumb in December and then sneak quietly into the night when his player gets signed in January or March.

Morales will do Ok in the end, and end up in a better place for his bat to put up some numbers. There are 10 teams with protected 1st round picks, and others who have already lost a 1st round pick due to signing other Free Agents.

O's Fan
Guest
O's Fan
2 years 9 months ago

I don’t want the O’s to go anywhere Morales at anything like $14M per.

How low Morales’ salary would have to go to make him worth the loss of the pick is an interesting question. Something like a 2/$6M contract? Obviously Morales (and Boras) would never take such a deal, but a 1-2 win DH is probably worth something like 2/$12M, and the Orioles’ pick (#17) is probably worth around $6M.

Dan Greer
Member
Dan Greer
2 years 9 months ago

Your reasoning is solid, however, Baltimore probably projects as an 83-87 win team currently, and each win at that point has a greater marginal value, since revenue will spike greatly if they can slip into the playoffs.

Duplicato
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

O’s are prob the best fit tho they are prob loathe to give up the draft pick w/o getting a steep discount on the price. Not sure that’s going to happen.

Duplicato
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

also, the Twins have apparently moved Ryan Doumit to the Braves today. That could clear the way for Kendrys to the Twin cities.

Duplicato
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

tho Jason Kubel is back in MN now… I assume he’ll get the first shot at DHing there.

Maybe the Jays move Adam Lind. The Brewers are supposedly still in the 1B market. The Jays have two protected 1st rd picks.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 9 months ago

Why would the Jays move Lind to clear the way for a more expensive but not clearly better player?

Charles Holleman
Guest
Charles Holleman
2 years 7 months ago

Because the Jays need pitching and maybe Lind can net them a decent arm?? Plus Lind and Morales were similar #’s wise but Lind was hitting in Toronto while Morales was in Seattle. Reference Adrian Beltre or pretty much any hitter in the last 10 years.

wjylaw
Member
wjylaw
2 years 9 months ago

There is basically zero chance Boras would advocate taking the QO. Boras’ whole marketing plan is he gets people paid, not he gets you the same amount of money as you could get without him, i.e. the QO. He’s going to play the same waiting game that happened with Fielder, R. Soriano and Lohse.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 9 months ago

But isn’t it possible that he wouldn’t have gotten the QO if he had a different agent? Everybody assumes he won’t advise his client to take the offer, which makes it more likely that the team would make the offer.

walt526
Guest
walt526
2 years 9 months ago

There are four reforms to QO rules that MLB and the MLBPA should consider to make it more equitable for QOed players,frustrate efforts by teams to avoid the full consequences of making a QO, and limit market externalities created by teams altering their decisions due to QO considerations (either whether to make the QO offer or sign a QOed free agent):

1) If a player accepts a QO, then he cannot be extended a QO the following year.

This has been suggested in many places before. The purpose is that a guy like Lohse or Morales might be willing to wait a year for a chance at a multiyear deal–they just don’t want to get stuck in a pergatorious cycle of getting offered (and essentially having to accept) a QO every year until they’re no longer good.

2) If a player accepts a QO, then he cannot be traded without his consent (terms basically the same as what a 10/5 player gets, only for just the QO contact).

The purpose of this is to discourage teams from offering a QO that they can’t really afford, but solely for the purpose of securing a draft pick. In other words, it prevents gaming of the system by increasing the likelihood of a negative consequence felt by the team that attempts it.

3) If a team extends the QO, then the player should be able to negotiate with other teams until the Winter Meetings.

The purpose of this is twofold: a) make more costly the extension a QO that a team is not prepared to want to see accepted (same reasons as above); b) allow the “market to develop.” A player who declines the QO in early December can make a far more informed decision than if needs to be the standard arbitration deadline.

4) If a team signs more than one QOed free agent, then their loss of picks is tied to future years.

Right now, teams signing top line free agents have an unintended incentive to go after multiple QOed free agents in a single year rather than spread out over the course of multiple seasons. This not only lessens the burden on the spending team, but it creates market distortions in subsequent years that are a potential negative externality for a team or player. Essentially some players or teams will potentially profit (or suffer) from the sprees of big market teams from previous years. This discourages behavior by teams looking to game the system, in the same way that determining payroll for luxury tax is based on the AAV of guaranteed multiyear contracts rather than the peculiarities of how contracts are structured.

Jamie
Guest
Jamie
2 years 9 months ago

Of course, if he holds out until spring training and waits for the inevitable injuries to pile up, some big market team will panic and overpay. If he had been hanging around last spring the Yankees probably would have met his price.

Ron
Guest
Ron
2 years 9 months ago

Something has to be done about the way the draft money pool is handled. I don’t think it is just the loss of a pick that makes teams not want to sign qualified free agents. It is the loss of that first round pick bonus spending slot. Giving up a high draft pick hurts the overall draft strategy, not just for the first round but everything else for the first ten rounds.

Maybe signing Morales might be worth a low first round pick but then when you figure the team might have to grab a worse player in the second round due to signability concerns that might change the situation.

Duplicato
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

this is what the MLBPU agreed to. It was the clear intent of the owners to have a system that would act to suppress FA salaries. The irony is that FA salaries have gone up regardless of the new cba.

To me, the one big thing that needs to be fixed is the 1st rd protection being limited to the first 10 teams. The teams that just miss that (the 11-15 bunch) are just about as bad as the teams around 9 or 10, but the teams just missing the cut off are penalized the most. Those teams can benefit by being able to participate in the FA process w/o having to sacrifice their 1st rd pick just as the teams in the 9 or 10 slot. The old system which protected the first 15 was more fair if the objective was to aid teams who needed the talent infusion the most.

Duplicato
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

just to emphasize that point, the 1st rd pick penalty has a different value depending on where you pick in the 1st rd. The league’s best teams who pick at the end of the 1st round have to give up a much less valuable pick if they sign an eligible FA (the 29th or 30th pick is far less valuable than the 11th pick normally) and so it’s less an impediment for a top team to sign a FA and thus it tilts the system toward the good teams staying good. The team picking 11th gives up a much more valuable pick (all things being equal) by signing an eligible FA.

Something not right about that.

Shankbone
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

The 11th pick is held by the most draft gaming organization in baseball, and its protected this year because their efforts to sign Bickford went sideways.

But yeah, the 11-15 is much more valuable than the 20-25 for sure.

Drew7
Guest
Drew7
2 years 9 months ago

“But yeah, the 11-15 is much more valuable than the 20-25 for sure.”

Are they though? I thought pick value pretty much leveled off by then.

Tim
Guest
Tim
2 years 9 months ago

If the Twins are going to be all over a qualified free agent it had better be Stephen Drew. Even with Doumit gone spending that money on Morales instead doesn’t make any sense.

Det
Guest
Det
2 years 9 months ago

I think Morales will be just fine. Some team will make a trade that opens up a spot for him or and injury will occur. Its just going to take some time. Boras knows what hes doing. Hell, Texiera isn’t healed from his wrist injury yet and the way the Yankee players suffer set backs, he could end up on the Yankees playing 1B for a lot more than hes worth.

@alxddd
Member
@alxddd
2 years 9 months ago

Despite the Jays’ DH production this year, is it possible that they shop Lind around and sign Morales to platoon with EE? I’m not saying it’s a good move, but they do have a protected first round pick after all and should be willing to put some names out there for their much needed hole-filling.

LaLoosh
Guest
LaLoosh
2 years 9 months ago

yeah and no real need to be a platoon. EE will play 1B, Kendrys will DH.

LaLoosh
Guest
LaLoosh
2 years 9 months ago

would…

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 9 months ago

Great song!

David
Guest
David
2 years 9 months ago

They need pitching so much more than a DH that I think they’re best served signing Jimenez if they’re going to surrender a draft pick. Even if they shop Lind they’d probably benefit more by keeping DH open to give guys a bit of a rest throughout the season. You’d have an easier time getting a supersub for Lind than an everyday player anyway.

Duplicato
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

maybe but their rotation lines up as:
Dickey
Buehrle
Morrow
Hutchison
Happ
Rogers
McGowan

they have candidates plus some excellent arms that are getting close. but yeah they are a team that should add a FA SP.

shor
Guest
shor
2 years 9 months ago

Where does the conventional wisdom that Morales cannot play 1B come from? The numbers seem to suggest he at least has a history of being competent (maybe his knee injury affected that, maybe not) if not above-average.

Granted he only played a full season there in 2009, but isn’t that just because he’s been on teams with better primary first basemen, not that he’s incapable? Pre-2009 he was blocked by Teixeira in Los Angeles, 2010 they had Napoli as the primary 1B, 2012 he was blocked by Pujols, and last year the Mariners had Smoak.

I don’t see why an NL team with a hole to fill wouldn’t consider him. You make it seems like he’s putting up -20 UZRs like Adam Dunn or somebody.

Bed Rest
Guest
Bed Rest
2 years 9 months ago

Teams do not automatically surrender a first round pick for Morales.

For example, the Mets:

-The Mets’ first round pick is protected.

-Second round pick was surrendered to the Yankees as compensation for the Granderson signing.

Accordingly, if the Mets sign Morales for one year, US$7 million or something like that they will only give up their next available draft pick, which is a third rounder.

This is the type of team that will likely sign Morales.

Shankbone
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

If they do end up dealing Davis, a 2 year deal for Morales makes some sense. The 7MM deal though… not so much. Its a true shame the Mets are being run on 90MM dollahs.

Joebrady
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

Even then, you need to find a team that needs a 1B. Even assuming the NYMs have no issue with Morales’ fielding, they already have a 1B.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan
2 years 9 months ago

I’m disappointed in the groupthink here. Morales knows how to play defense at 1st; he had fielding percentages of .994 & .996 and UZR/150 ratings of 5.4 & 13.1 in 2009 and 2010, i.e. before his horrific ankle injury. (He’s still sure handed, with a .997 FP last year, albeit in a small sample.) Is he fleet of foot at 1st? No. Can he pick it? Yes, he can do so reasonably well, and – if he is able to get in shape this offseason – he could be an absolute steal. Because, as for offense, the man’s floor is basically what he’s done the last two years, and again the ceiling is high, with him posting wOBA’s of .387 & .360 in 2009 and 2010, again before his horrific injury. For a team looking to compete now, it’s a no-brainer to take the established player – at a bargain price – over a 1st round pick that may or may not pan out.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 9 months ago

His *floor* is what he’s done the past two years? You’re not using that term correctly.

(Not suggesting that he’s certain to tank, or even likely to, but for *all* players its a possibility, and a higher likelihood for corner infield types on the wrong side of 30.)

Like the old Prospectus yearbooks would put a % chance on a player breaking out, improving, regressing, or collapsing. No one has a 0% chance in those last two categories, and for a 1B over 30, those categories would probably combine to 30-40%.

Joebrady
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

I agree on the floor issue. His floor is not particularly good at .781 OPS over two seasons. And the previous poster is looking at Morales like he can only move in one direction. I might make that assumption for a player that missed almost the entire season with a non-repetitive injury, but not on a regular player.

And if you can make that assumption about Morales, then why not make it about every player? I’d love to believe that the floor for Napoli is 2013, but I know that certainly cannot be right. Heck, that wasn’t even right about Pujols when he had the .906 when he signed with LAA.

Joebrady
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

1-The first question you should ask is, why is Smoak the 1B? He’s a weak fielder. If Morales is considered a worse fielder than Smoak, wouldn’t that make him a bad fielder?

2-You’re posting wOBAs from before the injury. The second question to ask is, if he had fairly mediocre OPS and OBA the past two years (for a DH), why is he going to break out this year?

3-A salary of $14.1M implies a WAR of maybe 2.5-2.6 at $5.5M each. If he had a 1.7 and a 1.2, why should we expect a 2.5 this year. Even going to his career of 6.4 WAR in 2419 PAs, why wouldn’t we expect something on the order of 1.6 WAR for ~ 600 PAs?

Duplicato
Guest
2 years 9 months ago

wow, the comments that never go away…

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