Kendrys Morales Rumors
Kendrys Morales remains more likely to be traded than Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo in the wake of the Josh Hamilton signing, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Angels seek an innings-eating starting pitcher in return for their switch-hitting DH.
Morales, 29, will not receive a qualifying offer after the 2013 season according to Rosenthal. He is projected to earn $4.8MM through arbitration this winter, a reasonable sum for a player who hit .273/.320/.467 with 22 homers in 522 plate appearances this past season. It was reported over the weekend that multiple AL teams had interest in Morales, though few clubs have an innings-eater to spare.
In today's Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney says Josh Johnson has a chance to be next offseason's Zack Greinke. If the right-hander stays healthy in 2012, he'll be arguably the best starting pitcher on the free agent market at a time when the sport is flush with cash and big market teams like the Cubs and Rangers figure to be in a position to spend. Here are the rest of Olney's rumors...
- Matt Sosnick, Johnson's agent, confirmed to Olney that they have not yet had any contract extension talks with the Blue Jays. They are open to it, however.
- Olney lists Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Ruiz, Brian McCann, Matt Garza, Joel Hanrahan, Carlos Gomez, David Murphy, and James Loney as players who have a lot riding on 2013 as they prepare to hit free agency after next season.
- In the wake of the Josh Hamilton signing, Kendrys Morales could be a good fit for the Rays as a switch-hitting DH with power and on-base skills. ESPN's Jim Bowden reports (on Twitter) that multiple AL teams are "in play" for Morales.
Here's the latest on how Josh Hamilton's agreement with the Angels will affect several other players and teams all around the league, including how close some other teams came to signing the free agent slugger themselves...
- The Rangers have told Geovany Soto he'll be their everyday catcher in 2013, but ESPN's Buster Olney wonders if the Rangers could now pursue free agent backstop A.J. Pierzynski. Also from Olney, rival evaluators are speculating that the Rangers might now be the best fit for Nick Swisher (both links are to Olney's Twitter account).
- The Mariners "badly wanted" Hamilton, which means the Angels disappointed two of their AL West rivals today, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). MLB.com's Greg Johns hears that the M's were heavily courting Hamilton and "had strong hopes" he would sign with them.
- The Red Sox had interest in Hamilton but weren't willing to offer a contract longer than three years, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
- The Phillies were similarly not interested in Hamilton at such a high price, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Hamilton's signing could increase interest in other free agent outfielders like Swisher and Cody Ross, thus possibly pricing the Phillies out of the market and forcing them to turn their attention to acquiring pitching instead.
- The Marlins could reverse their stance on trading Giancarlo Stanton, opines MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, if the Rangers are desperate to add another big bat and were willing to offer Jurickson Profar or Mike Olt in a deal. Frisaro also thinks Miami could be a trade match with the Angels as Peter Bourjos "has been on the Marlins' radar for a while."
- Fangraphs' Dave Cameron breaks down the value of Mark Trumbo, Kendrys Morales and Bourjos both to the Angels and on the trade market.
- Bourjos, for his part, tells MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez that he wants to remain in Anaheim and enjoys being an Angel, though he also wants to be an everyday player.
- ESPN's Keith Law doesn't see Hamilton providing much value in the last two years of his contract, though his signing "makes more sense" if the Angels trade some roster depth to fill the holes in their rotation. Law also notes that Michael Bourn appears to be running out of suitors, and speculates that Bourn could look for a one-year deal now and then look for a big multiyear contract next winter.
- Early today, we looked at rumors concerning the possibility of the Angels and Mets working out a trade involving R.A. Dickey.
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith also contributed to this post
- In the wake of the Madson signing, the Angels are letting teams know Jordan Walden is "very available" according to ESPN's Jayson Stark (on Twitter). The 25-year-old right-hander pitched to a 3.46 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 39 innings this year.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto would not say whether he was still pursuing Japanese free agent reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, reports Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
- The Angels will tender contracts to all four arbitration-eligible players according to DiGiovanna (on Twitter). Kendrys Morales, Alberto Callaspo, Jerome Williams, and Kevin Jepsen represent the team's class of arb-eligibles.
- The Angels have claimed shortstop Thomas Field off waivers from the Twins, the team announced. The 25-year-old has hit .260/.315/.260 in 54 plate appearances with the Rockies over the last two years.
- The Padres offered Hiroki Kuroda a one-year deal worth $17-18MM, reports George A. King III of The New York Post. The right-hander instead took a one-year, $15MM deal to return to the Yankees.
- Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports hears Brian Wilson's first choice (aside from the Giants) would be to pitch for the Dodgers next year (Twitter links). Wilson lives in Los Angeles during the offseason and will likely be non-tendered later this week.
Earlier today, we learned the Angels are interested in Ryan Madson. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports the Angels are indeed in talks with Madson about a possible deal. MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez adds, via Twitter, that GM Jerry Dipoto loves Madson, a Southern California native, and isn't afraid to take a chance on a closer coming off Tommy John surgery, as evident by last offseason's pursuit of Joe Nathan. Gonzalez also tweets any deal will probably be incentive-laden. Here are some more Angels notes from Gonzalez, who recently cleaned out in his inbox and answered emails from his readers:
- Gonzalez advances the idea the Angels may be better off not re-signing Zack Greinke. The argument goes since the Angels already have one ace in Jered Weaver, they will have more financial flexibility to fill the two holes they have in their rotation and to rebuild their bullpen, if Greinke signs elsewhere. Either way, the Angels are handcuffed until Greinke makes his decision.
- The Yankees, Red Sox, and Braves will not be factors in the Greinke derby, but the Dodgers and Rangers could really mess up the Angels' plans.
- Free agency will be the Angels' best bet to fill their holes because they don't have much minor league talent to offer in trade.
- Gonzalez would be shocked if Kendrys Morales is traded because he is viewed as a bargain in arbitration and is a crucial left-handed presence in a lineup that leans heavily to the right.
- Look for Alberto Callaspo, who provides solid defense and draw walks, to man third base in 2013 with top prospect Kaleb Cowart taking over in 2014.
Before the season, we identified 11 players who were entering "make or break" years. These guys had experienced ups and downs in their respective careers and were positioned to re-establish themselves as difference makers at the Major League level and set themselves up for nice paydays in the future. Now that we're into August, let's take a second to check in each player (all links go to MLBTR posts)...
- Scott Baker, Twins -- Baker, 30, had elbow surgery in April and will miss the entire season. Minnesota will likely decline his $9.25MM option for 2013 (no buyout).
- Phil Hughes, Yankees -- The 26-year-old right-hander owns a 4.10 ERA in 131 2/3 innings this year, including a 3.40 ERA since mid-May. He's a safe bet to be tendered a contract for 2014, his final year as a arbitration-eligible player.
- Jair Jurrjens, Braves -- Jurrjens, 26, pitched so poorly earlier in the season that he had to be sent to the minors. He's since resurfaced and owns 6.89 ERA in 48 1/3 innings, cementing his status as a non-tender candidate.
- Adam Lind, Blue Jays -- Lind has battled back problems and also been demoted to Triple-A this season, and he's hit .227/.298/.394 while with the big league team. The 29-year-old continues to disappoint since signing his four-year, $18MM extension prior to 2010.
- Francisco Liriano, White Sox -- It's been another up and down season for the 28-year-old southpaw, who owns a 5.03 ERA in 111 innings. The Twins traded Liriano to the ChiSox at the deadline.
- James Loney, Dodgers -- Loney, now 28, hasn't helped himself at all this season, hitting just .251/.301/.330 in 327 plate appearances. He might have to settle for a minor league contract this coming offseason.
- Kendrys Morales, Angels -- The 29-year-old is hitting .282/.327/.455 with 14 homers on the year, well below the level he established prior to his leg injury in 2010. Morales figures to be both a trade and non-tender candidate after the season.
- Mike Pelfrey, Mets -- Pelfrey pitched to a 2.29 ERA in three starts before needing Tommy John surgery. The Mets are expected to non-tender the 28-year-old after the season.
- Geovany Soto, Rangers -- The 29-year-old backstop has continued to deal with injuries in 2012 and is hitting just .201/.289/.356. Soto is an obvious non-tender candidate.
- Kevin Youkilis, White Sox -- Youkilis lost his starting job with the Red Sox and was traded to the White Sox, who are likely to decline his $13MM option after the season. The 33-year-old has dealt with nagging injuries and is hitting .238/.339/.427 overall.
- Delmon Young, Tigers -- Young, 26, has had a below-average season at the plate (.266/.298/.402) and has dealt with some off-field problems. He hasn't helped his free agent stock any.
The Angels continue to seek relief help, even as they pursue high-end rotation upgrades, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. They have talked to the Nationals about bullpen help and could have interest in Royals closer Jonathan Broxton, Knobler adds. Here’s the latest on the Angels, who now have a 50-41 record:
- The Angels are willing to offer Peter Bourjos for the right reliever and they're suggesting to teams that they would also deal Kendrys Morales, according to Knobler. Starter Garrett Richards could be available in a deal for a top starter such as Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels or Francisco Liriano.
- Adam Katz of WMG now represents Angels right-hander Ervin Santana, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal reports (on Twitter). Agent Bean Stringfellow had represented Santana in the past. Be sure to check out MLBTR’s Agency Database for any information about player representatives.
- Torii Hunter told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that there hasn’t been any progress toward a contract extension that would keep him in Anaheim beyond this year. The 37-year-old would like to remain with the Angels, though he would consider other clubs if Los Angeles doesn’t have interest in bringing him back. “If my time is up here, then you think about Minnesota, think about Texas,” Hunter said. “The Angels are No. 1 for me.”
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.