Morales likely headed to free agency
Shortly before the July 31 non-waver deadline, the Seattle Mariners contacted Kendrys Morales’ agent, Scott Boras, about signing the designated hitter-first baseman to a contract extension.
The conversation did not lead to actual negotiations, and Morales is now all but certain to become a free agent this offseason.
Boras said Friday that he expressed to the Mariners his plan to market Morales as a hitter whose offensive statistics would improve if he played his home games in a park other than Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.
Morales, 30, had told team officials he was interested in re-signing with the club, but the Mariners balked at contract figures suggested by Boras and never made the player a formal offer, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions.
The Mariners then passed twice on chances to trade Morales, first before the non-waiver deadline and then again this week after he was claimed on waivers by an unidentified club.
Morales, a switch hitter, is batting .281 with a .782 OPS and 17 home runs in 539 plate appearances. If he becomes a free agent, the Mariners will receive a draft pick for him only if they make him a one-year qualifying offer for a figure that is expected to be in the $14 million range.
Boras compared Morales to another of his clients, Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who averaged 20 homers per season in his five years with Seattle and has averaged 31 in his past four seasons with Boston and Texas.
“Beltre is an example of a player who hit 20 homers a year in Seattle and has averaged 30 homers somewhere else,” Boras said. “Kendrys’ metrics of value have to be looked at in that regard.”
Morales also offers leadership, Boras said. The Mariners, however, have used Morales mostly as a DH; only 27 of his 73 starts this season have been at first base. He also is a below-average baserunner, according to metrics on Fangraphs.com.
Still, Morales’ bat alone likely will make him attractive as a free agent. His previous club, the Los Angeles Angels, are among the teams that could have interest. Morales and Albert Pujols could split time between first base and DH.