And then, there was one.
The 2014 season is approaching fast, and the last few free agents are finding new homes. Most of the pitchers are gone, and even hitters like Nelson Cruz have a new zip code after the slugger signed a one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles.
One “big name” hitter remains, and that is Kendrys Morales. Maybe there are conversations that continue to go on behind the scenes, but Morales is still unemployed.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners have not been scratching out checks lately. There have been plenty of rumors, but the Mariners made their splash with Robinson Cano and have not done a lot since then. I suppose you could argue that the Fernando Rodney deal was a big move, but there are plenty of question marks with the up-and-down closer.
After all this, is it possible that Morales returns to the Mariners? We keep hearing about the Pittsburgh Pirates, but Seattle is also a team that is regularly inserted into the rumor mill, as were the Orioles before they signed Cruz.
From a lineup standpoint, Morales does not make a lot of sense. Morales is a first baseman or a DH. If you look at the roster, Morales would represent the fifth player to be vying for those positions when you consider Justin Smoak, Corey Hart, Logan Morrison and Jesus Montero.
Granted, Morales is still intriguing because he is arguably the most proven bat amongst the five. Hart has had success in the past, but he is an unknown quantity from a health standpoint. Morrison has “upside” but also a history of knee issues. Smoak has never lived up to the hype with the bat and Montero is out of shape and may never be an impact player.
When you look at the situation from that more conservative standpoint, Morales might be worth considering. He did have success with the Mariners last season and he could provide some genuine protection for Cano.
Then there is the money issue. What is Morales worth? More importantly, what will he accept? The Mariners made a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to him, which Morales rejected. Do the M’s offer him something in the neighborhood of $20 million over two years? Do they roll the dice and go for three years?
Or, does Jack Zduriencik wait until the bitter end for Morales and his people to realize that the market has dried up? Could the Mariners essentially force Morales to accept a deal similar to the one signed by Nelson Cruz? Morales is younger and more valuable than Cruz, but the price tag may still be too high.
Stay tuned fans, and save those Morales jerseys that you bought last season. There might still be a reason to wear them this season.