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Kendrys Morales Rumors
Morales’ stay with the Twins didn’t prove to be a lengthy one, as his tenure in Minnesota lasted just 39 games. The switch-hitting slugger’s overall numbers with the Twins don’t look like much, as he’s batted just .234/.259/.325. He did, however, just wrap up a 12-game hitting streak that saw him bat .292/.314/.417, so he’s showing some signs of life at the dish. Seattle designated hitters have batted just .217/.294/.343, so the bar for improvement isn’t set that high with the Mariners.
The Twins signed Morales shortly after the draft, paying him the prorated version of a $12MM base salary on a one-year deal. In other words, the Twins paid about $3.08MM for less than two months of Morales and turned that into the hard-throwing but control-challenged Pryor. The Mariners, on the other hand, appear to be on the hook for the remaining $4.3MM on Morales’ contract.
Pryor, who turned 25 yesterday, has spent much of the season with Triple-A Tacoma as he recovers from surgery to repair his latissimus dorsi muscle that he underwent in 2013 (as noted by Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN on Twitter). In 31 innings with Tacoma this season, Pryor has posted a 4.65 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9. However, Pryor does have some big league experience under his belt, as he has compiled a 2.81 ERA with a 35-to-16 K/BB ratio in 32 Major League innings. He’s averaged 96 mph on his fastball in his brief time in the Majors and can be controlled at least through the 2018 season. Pryor will report to Triple-A Rochester, per the Twins.
Morales was said by agent Scott Boras to be interested in working out a long-term deal with the Twins. Morales also said (via interpreter) on a road trip to Seattle that the reason he didn’t sign with the M’s this past offseason was that didn’t want to be in the same situation (presumably referring to the possibility of taking a one-year deal and again being hit with a qualifying offer in the 2014-15 offseason). It’s possible that the Twins could again show interest in Morales as a free agent this winter, and if he can hit well over the final two-plus months with the Mariners, he figures to do better on the open market than he did last time around. Because he did not spent the entire regular season with one team, he is now ineligible to receive a qualifying offer.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Kendrys Morales‘ first venture into free agency lasted much longer than the switch-hitter would have liked, and after signing a one-year deal with the Twins in June, it sounds as if he’s very open to signing a contract that would prevent him from hitting the free agency again this winter. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN spoke with Morales’ agent, Scott Boras, who “gushed” about how much his client loves playing for the Twins (Twitter link). A long-term deal is “certainly in play,” Wolfson adds.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Twins themselves are open to such a proposition. Certainly the early returns on their investment in Morales haven’t been encouraging. The longtime AL West slugger started off hot with Minnesota, but he’s seen his batting line fall to .229/.254/.328. Given his lack of defensive value, both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference peg him at -0.8 WAR.
Morales has begun to swing a bit better, as he is on a seven-game hitting streak during which he’s cracked five doubles, but he still isn’t showing any patience at the plate. His current 3.6 percent walk rate is the lowest of his career.
A few productive weeks could turn Morales into a nice trade chip at the deadline, and the Twins have to at least be considering the idea of selling off some veteran pieces, barring a sudden turnaround after the break. Currently, they’re 10.5 games out of the division lead and 6.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. Even if the Twins do move Morales, they could always look to re-sign him as a free agent this winter — a scenario on which the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo recently speculated.
In a video interview with ESPN’s Jim Bowden, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto discussed the recent trades his team has made. Regarding the team’s swap of Ernesto Frieri for Jason Grilli, Dipoto tells Bowden that he received a text message from Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, and the discussions took “about seven minutes” from start to agreement. The Halos’ interest in Grilli dates all the way back to his most recent run as a free agent, says Dipoto, who adds that the team discussed similar deals to this trade before making the move.
More from Dipoto’s chat with Bowden and the rest of the AL West below…
- Regarding his acquisition of lefty Joe Thatcher, Dipoto notes “that’s one we’d been looking at for quite a long time.” Dipoto adds that Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers had made his interest in Zach Borenstein, who went to Arizona in the deal, known in the past. Perhaps most interestingly, Dipoto implies that the negotiations on the trade took place with Towers. Previous reports have indicated that some organizations weren’t sure about Arizona’s front office hierarchy now that Tony La Russa is in the mix.
- Asked by Bowden if the Angels were done shopping, Dipoto replied, “We’ll continue to try to find ways to make the team better. Particularly, I’ve talked about the idea that if we can find one more piece for that bullpen.” Dipoto makes sure to qualify that he’s very pleased with the current mix of relievers but remains open to possible improvements at the back of the ‘pen.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who said he’s hopeful the team can reach an agreement with top pick Brady Aiken, but he won’t handicap it either way (Twitter link). Earlier today, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that a ligament issue in Aiken’s elbow has held up negotiations and caused the Astros to drop their bonus offer from $6.5MM to $5MM. Drellich talked to Aiken’s trainer, who claims that the lefty is healthy.
- With the Twins in Seattle, Kendrys Morales spoke through an interpreter to the Seattle media (including Bob Candotta of the Seattle Times) about his offseason discussions with his former club. Morales said there was a bit of discussion with the Mariners, but as his interpreter says: “…in his heart he just didn’t really want to come back here and be in the same spot. He was taking his chances to see maybe something would get better.”
- The Blue Jays are highly unlikely to deal for Cubs hurler Jeff Samardzija, and the clubs have not swapped trade proposals in some time. While a deal centered around pitching prospects Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris has been floated in the media, a source tells Heyman that there is “zero chance” that Toronto would part with that package.
- Instead, Toronto will probably focus more on the the “rental” market, says Heyman. But with many teams still waiting to see how they perform over the next month, the supply remains uncertain. Heyman cites Justin Masterson (Indians), Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies), Francisco Liriano (Pirates), and Jake Peavy (Red Sox) as arms that could join Jason Hammel of the Cubs in that segment of the market.
- The Jays are also likely to “take another look” at adding a second baseman after losing Brett Lawrie for a month or more to a broken finger. While minor league signee Juan Francisco will play third in the meantime, and now looks like an even more important piece of the puzzle, the club is running out a less-than-ideal assortment of options at second. Heyman suggests that the Jays would have interest in Chase Utley, but it remains far from clear that he will be an achievable target.
- The Mariners made a run at Kendrys Morales before he signed with the Twins, and Heyman has details. Seattle discussed a two-year concept and also offered a one-year deal for about $5MM.
- That would seem to reflect a desire to add bats, but GM Jack Zduriencik says that he is “wide open” in approaching acquisitions. According to Heyman, the team is interested in adding controllable, younger bats or starting pitching. Seattle has spoken with the Cubs about both Hammel and Samardzija, though the club remains loath to give up either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. While the club seemingly would deal away some of its young position players — such as Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Nick Franklin — it seems disinclined to part with them for less than a compelling return.
- While the M’s have plenty of strategic approaches available, one big issue cited recently has been the team’s apparent inability and/or unwillingness to add payroll. Heyman says that the club may have some free cash “for the right player,” however, possibly relating to incentives in Corey Hart‘s contract that will not be met.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has lots of hot stove information to share in his latest Sunday Notes column…
- Kendrys Morales has already become a positive clubhouse figure in his short time with the Twins and Cafardo wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota try to extend the slugger. It’s also possible the Twins could deal Morales before the deadline and then re-sign him as a free agent this winter.
- The Diamondbacks seem willing to listen about trade offers for any player except Paul Goldschmidt, Cafardo notes. Martin Prado could be an attractive trade chip, though possible trade candidates like Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo might not have enough time before the deadline to show that they’re healthy. “We’re meeting on it. Figures we are sellers, not buyers,” D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said.
- The Red Sox “spent significant time watching Matt Kemp last week,” though Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo that Kemp isn’t being traded. Kemp’s recent hot streak has “reinforced” his value to Colletti given the dearth of right-handed power options around the game.
- The Nationals could make Danny Espinosa available to second base-needy teams like the Giants or Blue Jays once Bryce Harper returns from the DL. With Harper back in the outfield, Washington would use Ryan Zimmerman at third and Anthony Rendon at second, leaving Espinosa without a regular job. Given Zimmerman’s shoulder problems and questionable future as a third baseman, however, I’d tend to think that the Nats would keep Espinosa as a valuable depth piece.
- Phillies outfielders Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere appear to be available, as Cafardo adds them to the long list of notable Philadelphia players who could be trade targets before the deadline.
- Red Sox catching prospect Christian Vazquez would be the top ask for any team looking to make a major trade with Boston. “That would be across the board, even for a major hitter. He’s major league-ready right now offensively and defensively,” a scout tells Cafardo. “We also think he’ll hit for some power in the majors. Because they have Blake Swihart, who a lot of teams will ask for as well, they probably would reluctantly give up Vazquez.” This same scout, however, says that between the two young catchers, he would keep Swihart.
- While Nate Schierholtz has only hit .207/.261/.313 in 249 PA this season, the Cubs will likely still trade the outfielder. Schierholtz is only signed through the end of the season and he is owed approximately $2.78MM in remaining salary.
- The Padres “would like to conduct a fire sale” and Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Seth Smith could all be available. Cafardo notes that Smith would be a good fit in the Red Sox outfield.
- Several teams are interested in Grady Sizemore, who one scout feels will perform better now that he has had time to get re-accustomed to playing. “Whoever gets him next will probably get a better player than what Boston had. He needed more time, and with that problem offensively up there they [the Red Sox] couldn’t wait,” the scout said.
- The Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Phillies and Rangers have been the teams who have been most aggressively scouting the major and minor league rosters of other clubs, Cafardo reports.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Ben Revere | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Quentin | Chase Headley | Chicago Cubs | Chris Denorfia | Christian Vazquez | Danny Espinosa | Grady Sizemore | Kendrys Morales | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Matt Kemp | Miami Marlins | Minnesota Twins | Nate Schierholtz | Newsstand | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Seth Smith | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals
While the Rangers find themselves at least facing the unexpected possibility that they will be sellers in July, GM Jon Daniels tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the team isn’t thinking of trading Adrian Beltre. “We haven’t really considered it,” Daniels said when asked. “He’s our best player, team leader, Hall of Famer.” More from Heyman’s article and more on the AL West below…
- Beltre’s future aside, Heyman writes that the Rangers will have to look hard at dealing veteran pieces such as Joakim Soria, Alex Rios and even Elvis Andrus as they look to retool for the future in what has become a lost year due to injuries. However, Daniels says that his team isn’t giving up on 2014 yet, and it would take a “compelling baseball deal” to move one of the Rangers’ core players.
- Heyman also sheds some light on the Rangers‘ pursuit of Kendrys Morales. Texas made just a $3MM offer to agent Scott Boras to secure Morales’ services, only to be outbid by a Twins team that offered $12MM pro-rated. Shortly thereafter, the Rangers saw another first base/DH option go down with an injury, as Mitch Moreland suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
- The Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich looks at the oddity of service time by pointing out that Astros right-hander Asher Wojciechowski, who has never pitched an inning in the Major Leagues, is closer to free agency and has more service time than standout rookie George Springer. Wojciechowski was added to the 40-man roster this offseason and injured himself on Feb. 1, long before Spring Training was underway and players could be demoted to the minors. Because injured players cannot be demote to the minors — otherwise teams could demote injured players to save countless dollars — Wojciechowski has been on the Major League 15-day DL all season, earning service time and a $500K salary.
- The Athletics were keeping tabs on lefty Brad Mills for awhile before acquiring him from the Brewers, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The team has little starting pitching depth and was aware of the opt-out in Mills’ contract. Of being acquired in exchange for $1 (yes, one dollar), Mills told Slusser: “I thought it was a joke at first. I try not to take it as a value judgment on my worth. Whatever they had to do to make it work.”
The Twins‘ decision to sign Kendrys Morales is not only a short-term boost to the club but could have long-term benefits as well, writes Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs. While the Twins haven’t been good to this point, they’ve also been better than many expected, and adding Morales could help keep them in contention should other aspects of the team pick up. If not, Morales will become a valuable trade chip come late July. The elements of Morales game that scared other teams — rust and his price tag, specifically — will have faded, making him an above-average bat that can be added for a useful prospect.
Here’s more on Morales and the rest of the American League Central…
- The Twins‘ first call to agent Scott Boras regarding Morales came on Wednesday of last week, assistant GM Rob Antony tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Three days later, the two sides had an agreement in place. Berardino adds that the deal is a testament to GM Terry Ryan’s recovery from skin cancer treatment, as Ryan handled the entire negotiation process on his own without any assistance from Antony.
- Berardino also tweets that Jason Kubel, whom the Twins designated for assignment to clear roster space for Morales, indicated to Ryan that he likely wouldn’t have interest in accepting an assignment to Triple-A Rochester should he clear waivers.
- The White Sox are confident that they will work out a deal to sign third-overall draft choice Carlos Rodon, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. GM Rick Hahn said that the club went after the top player on its board, and was not deterred by the fact that he is being advised by Scott Boras. “I tend to be an optimistic guy,” said Hahn. “I never anticipate problems. Look, in reality, we have a history with Scott, a positive history with Scott. … A fair amount of this concern, or discussion on how this could be difficult, I think is unnecessary and really not significant to us determining what’s going to happen here.” Rodon’s slot comes with a $5.72MM allotment, but was said before the draft to be seeking a bonus of over $6MM. With a shade over $9.5MM in pool money at the team’s disposal, Chicago could potentially use savings from other picks if it decides to go over slot for Rondon.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
SUNDAY, 10:34am: The Twins confirmed the signing via press release.
SATURDAY, 2:00pm: Kendrys Morales and the Twins have agreed to terms, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. The deal is pending a physical. Morales will receive one year and a prorated portion of a $12MM salary, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweets. That amounts to about $7.5MM. As FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal noted, that’s fairly similar to, but less than, the $10MM deal Stephen Drew recently received from the Red Sox. Since Morales will not spend the full season with the Twins, they will not be able to extend him a qualifying offer next offseason. Morales is represented by Scott Boras.
Morales had been connected to the Mariners, Rangers, Yankees and Brewers, and his signing with the Twins comes as a bit of a surprise. Morales, of course, was a free agent over the winter but had a minimal market after he declined a qualifying offer from the Mariners, which meant that any team that signed him (other than Seattle, which added Corey Hart and Logan Morrison in the offseason) would have to forfeit a draft pick. When the draft began, however, teams became free to sign Morales without losing a pick.
Morales, who turns 31 this month, has hit .280/.333/.480 in parts of seven seasons with the Angels and Mariners, including .277/.336/.449 last year. Since 2010, he has mostly been a designated hitter, although he played 31 games at first last season.
Morales seems likely to serve as Minnesota’s full-time DH, as Twins designated hitters have batted just .216/.323/.403 this year, and they have Joe Mauer at first base. The Twins have struggled in the outfield, but Morales has not played in the outfield since 2008. The Twins have used a variety of DHs this year, however, and by having Morales as their regular DH, they could use hitters like Josh Willingham less at DH and more in the outfield, potentially reducing the number of plate appearances for less productive outfielders like Jason Kubel and Chris Parmelee. Catcher Josmil Pinto has also logged significant time at DH.
Morales was one of several players this offseason who struggled in the free agent market after declining a qualifying offer. Drew only recently signed his prorated one-year deal with the Red Sox, and Nelson Cruz ultimately took a one-year deal with the Orioles. All three players ended up with significantly less than they would have gotten if they had accepted their qualifying offers.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
In case you missed it, the Twins finally brought an end to this year’s post-qualifying offer market, inking first baseman/DH Kendrys Morales to a deal that will pay him at a $12MM annual rate (around $7.5MM for the rest of the year). Morales will ultimately take home slightly less than Nelson Cruz takes home from the Orioles, though he’ll have to play much fewer games to earn it and will not be eligible for a qualifying offer next year. (Of course, he will also fall well shy of the $14.1MM qualifying offer that he rejected.)
Here’s the latest on the Morales signing:
- The Mariners did make an offer to Morales within the last two days, tweets Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The value of the offer was not reported. Seattle, of course, will not receive any draft compensation for losing Morales, since he waited to sign until after the first day of this year’s amateur draft.
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi says that he was not involved in any discussions about the possibility of adding Morales, reports Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. “[W]e thought [Mark Teixeira's] injury wasn’t going to keep him out for a long period of time,” explained Girardi. “We were pretty confident that we were going to get [Carlos Beltran] back.” While New York had been said to be a possible suitor, the most recent report indicated that the team had been rebuffed when it asked agent Scott Boras to hold off on signing while the team evaluated the health of Teixeira and Beltran.
- Morales is likely to slot right into the Twins‘ MLB lineup in spite of his layoff, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He figures to provide an immediate boost to the offense, even if he’s rusty, as Minnesota has received scant production from the first base and designated hitter slots in the lineup. On the other hand, it would be surprising to see the team take at bats away from Joe Mauer, and utilizing Morales as the primary DH will mean that the team can put only one of its two most productive hitters thus far (catchers Kurt Suzuki and Josmil Pinto) in the lineup. Of course, Suzuki remains a candidate to be traded away over the summer.
- Adding Morales represents another move that increases the Twins‘ ability to compete in the short term without sacrificing long-term value, writes Dan Szymborski for ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). Morales projects to be a roughly league-average DH, says Szymborski, but that sort of player would cost prospects to acquire via trade. And while the team may still have an uphill path to contention, it does sit just under .500, only five back in the AL Central and two-and-a-half out of the Wild Card. Like Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, who were inked to long-term deals over the offseason, Morales does not require Minnesota to cough up a draft choice.
Tyler Stubblefield was stuck at low-A ball last year for the Padres at age 25. This year, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock, he played a key role in recommending the team’s first-round draft choice, N.C. State shortstop Trea Turner, as San Diego’s area scout for eastern George and North and South Carolina.
Here’s the latest from the National League:
- It is time for the Dodgers to initiate a shake-up, opines Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider link). While the team undeniably has talented pieces, they have not fit together well, says Olney, who recommends that the team consider bringing up top prospect Joc Pederson to play center and installing the defense-first Erisbel Arruebarrena at short. Of course, those moves would have repercussions involving key veterans Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, among others, but Olney says that dramatic action may be necessary with the club still sitting well back of the Giants in the NL West.
- The Brewers do not seem like a good fit for Kendrys Morales, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy writes on Twitter. McCalvy says that two key questions — Morales’s ability to handle first and the team’s ability to fit him in the payroll — make a signing unlikely.
- Ryan Zimmerman says that he is not sure that he will ever return full-time to third base for the Nationals, as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. “I don’t know if I’m the best option over there anymore,” he said. “I’ve always said I’ll play until someone is better than me, or I’m not the best option at that position.” It will be fascinating to see how the Nats proceed when Bryce Harper returns, which is expected to occur around the turn of the month. While the team would have several options heading into 2015 — Zimmerman could stay in left and the team could deal Denard Span, or he could move to first if Adam LaRoche leaves town — the mid-season calculus is even more complicated. It seems hard to imagine that the team would leave second base in the hands of Danny Espinosa while taking away significant at-bats from any of the other players just mentioned. It seems at least possible that the Nationals could explore some creative trade possibilities to right-size the everyday lineup.
- Pirates righty Duke Welker underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday, reports Tom Singer of MLB.com (via Twitter). The towering 28-year-old was the player to be named later in last year’s Justin Morneau deal, but later returned to Pittsburgh in exchange for lefty Kris Johnson.