2013 Stats: .277/.336/.449, 23 homeruns, 80 RBI
Salary: $5.25 million with Seattle in 2013
This is a special edition “Player Profile” as we look at the one name associated with the Rangers who could help revive the offense, and could be signed by an MLB club very soon after Thursday night’s First-Year Player Draft begins.
2013 Year in Review: Morales played in a career-high 156 games and was able to hit 23 homeruns in a home ballpark (Safeco Field) that ranked 21st in MLB park factors (Globe Life Park ranked 19th). His 2.8 rWAR was the second highest of his career (4.3 in 2009).
Career: Morales is a career .280/.333/.480 with a career 123 OPS+, but he is largely defined as the guy who fractured his lower left leg on a walk-off homerun as an Angel back in 2010. He wasn’t able to play again until 2012 where he played in 134 games, hit 22 homeruns and had a 119 OPS+. That led to him being able to get a one-year deal with the Mariners last season.
He doesn’t turn 31 until June 20, but he is essentially regulated to designated hitter. Morales played first base in only 31 of the 156 games last season, but has played 329 career games at the position (232 games at DH and 17 as RF).
2014 season: Overall, 2013 was a very solid season for Morales, and one that should have warranted a multi-year deal. He turned down a three-year, $30 million extension with Seattle last season and is now paying for it. Morales is still a free agent due primarily to MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Under the CBA, if a team offers their free agent a deal at least equal to the average of the 125 richest contracts (1-year, $14.1 million in 2014), and the player turns it down, the team will receive a compensatory pick when he signs with another ballclub.
Because of the above rule, which debuted in 2013, there wasn’t a team this offseason that felt Morales was worth the loss of their first-round pick. If the Rangers were to sign Morales prior to Thursday’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, they would lose the compensatory pick (No. 30) they received from the Baltimore Orioles when Baltimore signed Nelson Cruz.
Once the draft begins, Morales is no longer tied to a compensatory pick. His agent Scott Boras is at the front of the line of people who don’t like the new rules:
“This has to be a performance-driven industry. That is the trust dynamic in the locker room and the front office. That has to stay constant. . . . When teams are sitting here using classification as a means to pay performance, it’s obfuscation. It’s a travesty. It destroys the integrity of the game.”
As he does regularly, Boras overplayed his hand with Morales when he had him turn down the extension last season.
If signed, what should the Rangers expect out of Morales?
If Morales is able to duplicate his 123 OPS+ from 2013, that would place him as the fourth-best hitter on the team behind Adrian Beltre (139), Shin-Soo Choo (138) and Alex Rios (127). His offensive splits as a switch-hitter are very similar:
vs. RHP: .275/.327/.453
vs. LHP: .282/.353/.440
This ability gives Manager Ron Washington more flexibility in the lineup and would keep Mitch Moreland out of the No. 3 hole (Moreland is hitting .205/.239/.227 in 10 games at that spot). Signing Morales would be seen as adding an offensive reinforcement only. He would only be able to play first base in NL parks or in emergency situations.
I would love to see the front office sign Kendrys for a one-year deal at $5 million or less. This would allow him to work for a new deal in 2015 and provide Texas with a value in the 1-1.5 win range, which is worth $7 million minimum on the open market.
Eddie Middlebrook also writes for Paranoid Fan as a MLB and College Football contributor. He can be on Twitter @emiddlebrook.