Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
The Seattle Mariners will most likely be without the services of Kendrys Morales next season. No team wants to lose a quality bat, but there is a limit to how much a franchise like Seattle should spend.
Morales turned down Seattle’s one-year qualifying offer, which was expected. By issuing this offer, the Mariners will at least get a draft pick if Morales signs with another team. That said, the decision to turn down the offer does not mean that Seattle is out of the running to sign Morales to a multi-year deal.
At this point, Seattle should just let him walk away.
There is a level of frustration in Seattle because the team is seriously lacking in marquee hitters. Morales is not a superstar by any means, but he is a quality, veteran bat. Some fans are feeling like the team needs to sign somebody, even if management is forced to overpay.
Unfortunately, this can be a dangerous strategy. At 30 years old, Morales is not necessarily worth 4-5 years or $12-$15 million per season. Since Morales is represented by Scott Boras, it would not be surprising for Team Morales to ask for that kind of contract.
Boras believes the numbers put up by Morales last season (23 HR, 80 RBI) should essentially be rounded up to 30 HR and 100 RBI due to the declining power numbers in Major League Baseball. Of course, Boras is expected to say something like that. However, this can be the deceptive part of free agent contracts in baseball.
Power numbers are, unfortunately, a bit overrated. Fans may get excited about home runs but the franchises that win are those teams that can get on base. The Boston Red Sox had the second-best team batting average in baseball. Their World Series opponents, the St. Louis Cardinals, were fourth.
Boston did hit a fair number of home runs (sixth in the league) but St. Louis was 27th. The Mariners? Second in home runs. Unfortunately, the M’s were 28th in team average and 26th in on-base percentage. In other words, the Mariners hit a lot of solo home runs and they struggled to get guys on base.
Hence the generally underwhelming offense.
Tell you what, Mr. Boras, based on your logic perhaps the Mariners should pay Morales $8 million per year. That is sort of like $10 million, if you round up.
If the Mariners want to pay top dollar for Morales, they should pay for his team-leading .277 average, not his home runs. Again, home runs are fun but Morales hit 23 in 602 plate appearances. For those of you scoring at home, that is one every 26 at-bats.
This is where we have to circle around to age again. Morales will turn 31 in June. Is he really going to maintain this type of production over the next four or five years? What happens if he is making $12 million next season and he hits .260 with 18 home runs? Hello, Adrian Beltre.
It seems reasonable to assume that the Mariners may make some sort of multi-year offer to Morales. However, it is doubtful that they will work hard to ensure that their bid is at the top of the money list. More than likely, the bid will be on the lower end. That way the team can state that they made an effort. The Mariners can also avoid breaking the bank if Morales were to return to Seattle after discovering a market that was less than enthused to acquire his services.
Take the draft pick. Let Morales go to the highest bidder. Someone out there will overpay.