Blue Jays: Kendrys Morales is here to stay

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 04: Kendrys Morales
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 04: Kendrys Morales /

It’s been suggested in the media a few times recently that the Blue Jays may be better off if they move on from endrys Morales at designated hitter, and try to create more flexibility with the position. The thing about that is, where are you going to trade him?

It’s the first year of a three year deal between the Toronto Blue Jays and Kendrys Morales, and it’s gone pretty much how we should have expected it to. He’s always been a “good”, but not “great” hitter, and he’s provided that sort of value this season, hitting .251/.315/.455 with 21 home runs and 59 RBI.

In the power departments, he trails only Justin Smoak for the team lead, so he’s hardly been a slouch at all, and the Blue Jays should be relatively pleased with what he’s given them, even if the season has been a disappointment. He hasn’t provided much of anything on the defensive end, but only a fool would have expected him to do otherwise when they signed him.

That said, it’s understandable that Blue Jays fans, and many writers around the league think the Blue Jays would be better off moving on from the 34 year old switch-hitter. His inability to play defence, coupled with Smoak’s emergence, has created a scenario where it’s difficult to give their other veterans a day off, without taking them out of the lineup. For example, last year if they felt Josh Donaldson was a little hobbled, they could slot Edwin Encarnacion at first base and give Donaldson a day at DH. With Morales and Smoak being the top two hitters on the team, there isn’t much room to take either out of the lineup.

More from Jays Journal

Next year it’s likely that Jose Bautista will have moved on, but the team will still sport veterans like Donaldson, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki, and more, so the situation will persist for at least another season. Unless of course, the Blue Jays make some changes to their current makeup.

BP Toronto writer, Dave Church, suggested the Blue Jays should try to find a trade suitor for Morales, and look to move him and the two years remaining on his contract during the upcoming offseason. It was well written, but while Church made good points in the piece, the question is: Who wants to create the same problem in their lineup?

It’s not exactly fair to paint Morales as a “problem” (just as Church also points out), but in the ever-evolving landscape of the MLB, team’s are enjoying flexibility and other measures of value like never before. The Cuban slugger can certainly provide value to a ball club, but his type of player isn’t held in the same regard that they once were.

With a quick scan of the American League, I see just a handful of potential matches as trade partners. Realistically, the National League is out of the question, barring someone really wanting to take a chance. Most teams will crave that defensive flexibility as well, or will have an in-house option to take the majority of the DH at bats. Without doing a complete run down of every team, the only possibilities I see are maybe the Royals, White Sox, or Oakland A’s, and again, those are stretches as well.

The Royals are familiar with Morales’ loveable personality, and haven’t received a whole lot of production from Brandon Moss, or the other DH alternatives this year. That said, they’re due to lose a ton of their veteran core to free agency, so money is going to be at a premium for them. The White Sox just began a tear down, and have several players who would benefit from having the odd day at DH, so they aren’t a great fit either. The A’s? Well, they’re always creative, and you never know what Billy Beane might be thinking.

Beyond that though, I don’t really see any other teams having much interest in acquiring Morales. Again, it’s not because he isn’t good, it’s just that the landscape of value has changed so much in the last few years, that the 1.5 tool players (power, and I gave him a half point for hitting for average) are a tougher sell.

Next: What the Wild Card picture really looks like

The good news is, Morales can still hit the ball with authority, and he’ll likely provide close to the same value he has this year, over the span of the final two years of his contract. He’s paid well, but it’s nothing astronomical either, so while it might be a bit frustrating to be “stuck” with his contract, it could be a lot worse.