Kendrys Morales bet on himself in Free Agency last year, and lost. Coming off a strong 2013 with the Seattle Mariners, Morales declined his qualifying offer, believing he could fetch a contract at 3 years, at $30M – $40M. Due to a tepid market and the draft pick compensation attached to him, Kendrys Morales went unsigned until mid-season.
Following the trade of Adam Lind, the Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly interested in Victor Martinez, Russell Martin and others to help fill the void left at 1B/DH. Alex Anthoulos seems to be aiming higher in Free Agency, and is doing so in a much more public manner than years prior.
The reality is, however, that the Blue Jays could very well land neither player. These are elite options on the market with many teams interested, so it is important to look to the second tier of players that may be available.
Kendrys Morales is coming off a dreadful season in 2014, which he split between the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners, but he offers Toronto an opportunity to buy low. With Martin and Martinez both near the peak of their career value on the open market, a contract such as Morales’ could intrigue the Jays in the situation that they strike out with their initial targets.
After missing all of Spring Training and the early portion of the season in 2014, Morales played at a disadvantage all season and never truly caught up to the speed of the game. He was inconsistent and largely unreliable, and although not all of the blame can be placed on his late start, I feel that Morales will return to a level somewhere close to his career averages, or perhaps slightly below.
A detriment to Morales’ value is that he would offer the Blue Jays next to nothing in the field. Kendrys Morales would be used as a strict DH, and should only see time at 1B as a last resort, which could force Edwin Encarnacion to see regular fielding duty.
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In a lineup that is hungry for a third run-producing bat, Kendrys Morales could provide solid numbers out of the fifth or sixth spots in the order. Morales is much stronger against righties, with a career slash line of .276 / .332 / .476. Against left-handed pitching, Morales hits .257 / .305 / .416, which isn’t ideal.
Anthopoulos should not pursue Kendrys Morales as a primary target given the performance he is coming off of in 2014, but if the Blue Jays are unable to sign a top-flight Free Agent, Morales is a name that they should then visit. He will likely be seeking a one year deal, two at most, to re-establish his value, with an annual price tag of $5M – $8M. If things don’t go as planned for the Jays this offseason, as they sometimes don’t, Morales could be an interesting consolation prize, but one that Toronto would need to “settle” for.