Kendry Morales Rumors
Kendrys Morales has proven himself as an above-average MLB hitter and he's still just 28 years old. He appeared in yesterday's Spring Training contest, but hasn't played in an official game since May 29th, 2010, the day he injured his left ankle in a walk-off home run celebration gone wrong. There are no guarantees for Morales as he attempts to complete his comeback.
Morales posted a .302/.353/.548 line with 95 extra base hits in 833 plate appearances during the 2009-10 seasons. If he returns to form, he’ll essentially be Miguel Cabrera-lite.
But there’s a difference between appearing in a Spring Training game and contributing regularly at the Major League level. The initial fracture sidelined him for a year and he had to have his ankle cleaned out again last May. Even routine activities such as baserunning are more stressful for him than they are for other players.
If Morales comes close to replicating his MVP-caliber 2009 season, his career will finally be on track. He’ll have job security for 2013 and a obtain generous raise when he goes through the arbitration process for the final time next offseason.
However, if he struggles to stay on the field or fails to produce when he plays, there’s a good chance the Angels will cut ties with him by December's non-tender deadline. There would be no sense in guaranteeing Morales another $3MM at that point. And as appealing as free agency is to players coming off of strong seasons, Morales’ job prospects will be limited unless he stays healthy and hits.
For now, however, Morales is simply targeting Opening Day. If his ankle holds up and his swing returns, 2012 could be as rewarding as 2011 was frustrating.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
Here's the latest from the AL West...
- The Rangers may be trying to trade Koji Uehara to clear payroll space for not necessarily Roy Oswalt, but rather a left-handed reliever like Mike Gonzalez, tweets FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. We heard last month that Texas was interested in Gonzalez. Both Uehara and Gonzalez were acquired by Texas in separate trades with the Orioles last summer, but while Gonzalez pitched for the Rangers throughout their playoff run, Uehara struggled in the ALDS and ALCS and was left off the World Series roster. Uehara, who has a limited no-trade clause, already rejected one deal that would've sent him to the Blue Jays.
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez looks at various scenarios facing the Angels surrounding Mark Trumbo's ability to play third base and Kendrys Morales' health.
- The Mariners have two players on their 40-man roster who are out of options: Mike Carp and Cesar Jimenez. As MLB.com's Greg Johns explains, Luis Rodriguez is also out of options but, as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, he isn't on Seattle's 40-man roster.
- Also from Johns' mailbag piece, he doesn't think the Mariners need to sign a veteran DH like Johnny Damon or Vladimir Guerrero, arguing that the playing time is better served for young players like Carp, Jesus Montero and Casper Wells.
- The Mariners inquired about Yankees prospect Mason Williams during the Michael Pineda trade talks, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Williams, a 20-year-old center fielder, enjoyed a breakout campaign at low Class-A Staten Island last season, hitting .349/.395/.468 in just his second year of pro ball. Heyman is "hearing raves" about Williams' potential.
THURSDAY: Morales signed for $2.975MM, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
WEDNESDAY: The Angels avoided arbitration with first baseman Kendrys Morales, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. Morales hasn't appeared in the Majors since May 29th, 2010, when he broke his ankle in a home plate celebration. The Scott Boras client's salary is expected to remain close to $3MM.
According to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, the Angels are being cautious with Morales, who is ramping up baseball activities. When he is ready for Major League action, he may have to fight for playing time given the Albert Pujols signing and Mark Trumbo's emergence.
MLBTR's arbitration tracker shows that after signing Morales and Jerome Williams and extending Howie Kendrick, the Angels have two remaining arbitration eligible players in Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo.
Albert Pujols is a great problem to have. The Angels created a serious logjam by signing the greatest hitter of the generation last month, as they now have about five players -- Mark Trumbo, Kendrys Morales, Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu -- competing for the two corner outfield spots and DH. That doesn't include Mike Trout, another outfielder and arguably the best prospect in baseball.
The Angels have indicated a willingness to keep Abreu because his left-handed bat helps balance out a righty heavy lineup, plus Wells and Hunter are unlikely to be traded given their salaries. Trumbo and Morales are first basemen like Pujols, and figure to be among the first to go if a trade is made.
Trumbo, 26 next week and with five years of team control left, finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2011. That was due to his gaudy home run (29) and RBI (87) totals though, not his batting average (.254) or OBP (.291). Power is becoming harder to find these days, and Trumbo certainly has plenty of it. We know the Angels are looking for bullpen help, and if yesterday's Anthony Rizzo trade is any indication, the Angels could get a young, cost controlled power arm for their bullpen by dealing their incumbent first baseman. I'm just speculating, but the Indians, Pirates, Brewers, and Rays make sense as trade partners.
Morales, on the other hand, is 28 with just two more years of team control left. His value is way down because he hasn't played in a year and a half due to leg and ankle injuries, though he's recently been cleared "ramp up" baseball activities during his rehab according to Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times. Prior to the injury, he'd hit .302/.353/.548 with 45 homers in 203 games from 2009-2010. The Halos would probably be selling low on Morales by trading him now, but they stand to save just about $3MM by moving him according to our projections. Again, those same four teams make sense as trade partners.
The Angels have indicated that Trumbo will work out at third base during Spring Training to see if he can get some at-bats there, but they might not have a better trade chip at their disposal (assuming Trout is off the table). It's worth noting that they just signed Jorge Cantu to a minor league deal to serve as depth at both corner infield spots, so they have some protection there.
The Angels introduced Albert Pujols at a press conference today, but they still have to figure out what to do with their two incumbent first basemen. GM Jerry Dipoto indicated that they will find a place for Mark Trumbo, and today he confirmed to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez that Kendrys Morales will be tendered a contract before Monday's deadline.
Morales, 28, hasn't played since breaking his leg celebrating a walk-off grand slam against the Mariners on May 29th, 2010. He'd hit .302/.353/.548 with 45 homers in the 203 games prior to the injury, dating back to the start of the 2009 season. The team will know more about the health of his leg after the New Year, but he must also prove he can run at full speed in Spring Training.
Our projections have Morales earning $2.975MM in 2012 following his second trip through arbitration this winter. There has been some speculation that the Angels would non-tender him after landing Pujols, but they should be able to finding some trade interest. A number of teams could use a switch-hitting power hitter at first base (or DH), including the Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, Indians, Brewers, Pirates, and Rangers.
The Marlins offered $90MM over six years to Jose Reyes, a source told Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. They say Reyes is intrigued by playing in warm weather and for Ozzie Guillen. Reyes wants a contract worth a minimum of $100MM, however, tweeted Joel Sherman of the New York Post yesterday. More from Rosenthal and Morosi...
- The Marlins have not discussed moving Hanley Ramirez to center field.
- Many in the industry are skeptical of the sincerity of the Marlins' early offers to Reyes, Albert Pujols, Mark Buehrle, and Ryan Madson, feeling the proposals are competitive but not good enough to accept.
- The Rangers and Angels are among the teams that are interested in both C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt. The Nationals prefer Oswalt. Both pitchers are clients of Bob Garber.
- Heath Bell could benefit from the new collective bargaining agreement if teams no longer have to surrender a draft pick to sign Type A free agents who turned down arbitration. Ramon Hernandez too, in my opinion. I'm surprised to hear that such a change could be instituted for the 2012-13 offseason, after some teams made July trade decisions based on the old free agent compensation system.
- The Padres want to trade Jason Bartlett or Orlando Hudson. They are currently the only two players the Padres have under contract. Bartlett's $5.5MM option for 2013 will vest with 432 plate appearances in 2012.
- Rafael Furcal has drawn interest from the Rockies, Tigers, and Blue Jays as a second baseman, but he prefers to remain at shortstop.
- Rosenthal and Morosi say not to rule out the Giants on Carlos Beltran yet.
- The Angels will know more about Kendrys Morales' condition after January 1st. Morales is still recovering from a fracture in his leg suffered in May of 2010.
10:43pm: Dipoto said the Angels aren't interested in Aramis Ramirez but are interested in C.J. Wilson, according to Bowden (all links go to Twitter). Dipoto said he's looking for an upgrade at catcher, improved on-base percentage in the lineup and a rotation stabilizer. The Angels intend to tender a contract to Kendrys Morales, who hasn't played since an ill-fated walk-off celebration in 2010.
9:47pm: Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden that the Angels may be interested in Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols. Morales and Rookie of the Year candidate Mark Trumbo provide the Angels with two internal options at first base, but Dipoto hasn’t ruled out others.
"Don't assume that we have no interest in Fielder or Pujols," Dipoto said. "We don't want to lock the door. We are a high-revenue team and I'm a big believer in acquiring impact players. However, they are not our greatest need and are not priority number one on our list."
Dipoto explained that the Angels intend to pursue right-handed relievers this offseason in order to strengthen the back of their bullpen. Meanwhile, top prospect Mike Trout hasn’t assured himself of a starting job in the Major Leagues yet. Torii Hunter, Peter Bourjos and Vernon Wells have everyday outfield jobs heading into Spring Training and the Angels intend to find regular at bats for the 20-year-old Trout.
"I know one thing, he's going to play every day and if it's not in the Major Leagues then it will be in our farm system," Dipoto said.
For a detailed look at the team's offseason outlook, click here.
We've already looked at the other Los Angeles team tonight, so let's turn our attention to Anaheim for some Angels news...
- Kendrys Morales is making progress after ankle surgery and is cautiously optimistic he'll be ready for Opening Day, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
- "We have to make moves, we can’t stand pat,” said Halos GM Tony Reagins during an appearance on The Max & Marcellus Show on ESPN LA 710 radio. “We have to improve in a number of areas and I think there are opportunities out there to improve. We’re going to be aggressive in pursuing those.” Reagins said the team would focus on acquiring bullpen help and a quality hitter, though the latter problem could be solved if Morales returns to form.
- While the Angels all agree they need a bat, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles wonders if the team could instead add to their already-impressive rotation. "There is a glut of pitching entering the free-agent market this fall, while the premium offensive players tend to play a position -- first base, shortstop or outfield -- where the Angels are either set or logjammed," Saxon writes.
- Also from Saxon, he speculates that the Angels and Marlins could be trade partners for Bobby Abreu, provided the Halos pay most of Abreu's $9MM salary. Abreu could be reunited with his good friend Ozzie Guillen and serve as mentor to Florida's young players. I'm not sure Abreu would enjoy being a backup in Miami (unless the Fish trade Logan Morrison to free up space in left field) and if the Angels are going to pay Abreu's salary anyway, they might as well just keep him as bench depth themselves.
- Mike DiGiovanna projects the Angels to have an Opening Day payroll of roughly $121MM for next year, which leaves room for "one significant free agent" unless the team is willing to surpass last season's $142MM payroll.
On this date in 1948, the Brooklyn Dodgers acquired announcer Ernie Harwell from the Atlanta Crackers for catcher Cliff Dapper in an unconventional trade that the Dodgers won easily. Here's the latest on L.A.'s two teams...
- James Loney tells Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times that he loves playing for the Dodgers and hopes the team wants him back in 2012. The first baseman is under team control next year, but would earn a raise from $4.875MM if the Dodgers offer arbitration, which makes him a prime non-tender candidate.
- Clayton Kershaw was the National League's pitcher of the month in July and his season numbers are now more impressive than ever. The 23-year-old has a 2.68 ERA with a league-leading 177 strikeouts, a career-best rate of 2.3 BB/9 and a career-best 13 wins. It should all translate into a salary of $5MM or more next year, when Kershaw is arbitration eligible for the first time.
- Angels GM Tony Reagins tells Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times that having lots of powerful bats at first base is a "good problem." Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo and C.J. Cron give the Angels an abundance of power at first base and Reagins says situations like this "have a way of working themselves out."
- The Angels are considering replacing the struggling Joel Pineiro in the rotation, according to Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com (on Twitter). It's not clear whether the Angels will look to the bullpen, the minors or outside of the organization.
Kendrys Morales will undergo a second ankle surgery and is out for the season, according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Morales' rehab had stalled, so he went to Colorado for a second opinion this week, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. The first baseman has not played or run at full speed since last May 29th, when he broke his left ankle in a walk-off celebration.
Catcher Bobby Wilson has five games of MLB experience at first and Howie Kendrick, who is now playing left field for the Angels, has played 69 games at first. The bulk of the playing time will presumably continue to go to Mark Trumbo, the powerful rookie who has a .270/.311/.486 line with 6 homers through 119 plate appearances this year.
Morales, 27, earns $2.975MM through arbitration this year and is under team control through 2013. He hit .306/.355/.569 with 34 homers in 2009, finishing 5th in the AL MVP voting.