With several question marks surrounding their lineup for the 2017 season, the Blue Jays have struck early to add some offense to the equation, formally announcing on Friday that they’ve signed free agent designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33MM contract (as was first reported last week). Morales is represented by Wasserman.
[Related: Updated Blue Jays Depth Chart]
Entering last Friday, when the deal was first repored, the sides had been connected, but not in a particularly serious way. However, it quickly emerged that Toronto was making serious pursuit, and in fact it now seems clear that the club was finalizing a rather surprising early strike for the 33-year-old switch-hitter. That being said, it’s the timing that’s particularly eye-opening, as the match has long made a good bit of sense.
Indeed, Morales-to-the-Jays is just what MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted in his ranking of the top fifty free agents. The third year went beyond expectations, though it comes with a fairly modest boost in what might have been anticipated in total compensation. Going to the extra year, but doing so at a palatable average annual value, may well explain why this deal was able to be completed so rapidly. Ultimately, Morales will earn a slight raise over the three year, $30MM pact signed two winters ago by another former Royals designated hitter, Billy Butler.
Though he’s coming off of a much better platform than was Butler, Morales is a fair sight older. This contract seems like a solid result for him. He slumped early in 2016 and finished strong, with the final result of a .263/.327/.468 batting line and thirty home runs over 618 plate appearances. He was even better in 2015, so there’s good reason to think he can continue to be an above-average offensive force, but Morales is a terrible baserunner and isn’t likely to be relied upon for regular work in the field.
It had seemed that Toronto would at least spend a bit more time looking into a return for Edwin Encarnacion, who had continued to express a preference to return. With this signing, though, he seems destined to head elsewhere. It is still theoretically possible that a reunion with Encarnacion could come together, as he’d be slated for first with Morales at DH. But that’s tough to imagine, as it would tie up a huge amount of the available payroll space and leave the team without any improvement in the corner outfield.
Instead, the Jays will likely go out looking for a few more assets with a good bit of their powder still dry. Whatever ongoing interest the team had in long-time star right fielder Jose Bautista could remain intact, as he’d make a cleaner fit at this point than would Encarnacion, though Morales’s presence at the DH slot for a three-year term complicates even that connection. If another hefty payroll hit isn’t in order, the club may instead aim further down the market and attempt to find some value in the corner outfield. Toronto is presumably also looking at adding some pitching, though perhaps that’s less of a priority.
Christopher Meola first reported the agreement and contract details (Twitter links).
A perfect fit in Toronto. It also means that Encarnacion is gone. Will Encarnacion be taking Big Papi’s place in Boston now? That is also a perfect fit.
I think Beltran is more likely for the Red Sox, they don’t want to give EE a long term deal
The Red Sox need to make a splash in this offseason to keep their fan base happy after losing Big Papi, Encarnacion would be that splash. This site and Rosenthal still think that Boston is the best fit for Encarnacion. If they signed him to the 4/92 contract MLBTR expects, they would still have a payroll south of the $197 million they spent this year. They do need help in their bullpen and a starter for the middle of their rotation, but that doesn’t mean they would have to spend a bunch. With their deep position player prospect base, trading for either a starter or a couple of good pen arms would be a relatively easy job for Dombrowski. Their rotation is far from barren with 3 arms that had a FIP under 4.00 in Price, Porcello, and Wright, Buchholz is still serviceable, and they have 2 good young arms in Rodriguez and Pomeranz, and lefty starter Johnson is knocking on the door. I think the Red Sox end up with Encarnacion and Greg Holland in free agency, A starter like Sonny Gray or Homer Bailey to add to the rotation and someone like Nate Jones, Justin Wilson, or Ryan Buchter to setup in trade and are set to contend again in 2017.
I see BoSox ending up with Sale. White Sox need to do something different and Boston is one of only a handful of teams that could put the right package together.
Everyone is reporting that Boston doesn’t want a full-time DH, so unless it’s some sort of posturing and they are actually interested in EE, it doesn’t look like it will happen.
Why’s that? EE played right around half his games as a first baseman in 2016, so no reason to assume he HAS to be a full time DH in 2017.
They didn’t win a WS for 86 years and their fan base stayed happy. I don’t think losing Big Papi is going to have any bearing on their fan base.
Doesn’t mean anything about EE. Morales will DH, EE can still play 1st. Lord knows management and fans have to be tired of the Smoak era.
redsoxs are not persuing e.e
That’s funny, because they talked to his agent about him at the GM meetings and Dombrowski said they were interested in adding him.
I think Houston is the perfect fit for Encarnacion. He’d have the chance to play a lot of first base, which is something he wants to do. Houston has a lot of young talent & he’d be a good veteran presence
Good signing experienced switch hitter. Now focus on bringing EE Bsck
You realize that signing morales means that EE isn’t coming back now right….
Jays plan all along was to and still is for Edwin to play 1B. They have stated a DH isn’t worth $20 million+. Morales is a full-time DH at best, door is still open for Edwin if the Jays want to go that route.
When was the last time ee has played 90 plus games in the field ? Years ago now you’re going to ask him to play there 140 + times when half the games are in Toronto on turf and he’s no spring chicken @ 34. Maybe the intention was to get cheaper alternative to avoid to many long term commitments so they can resign donaldson.
2008. It won’t happen in 2017 either. That is why with the signing today, Encarnacion is not going to be a Blue Jay in 2017.
Kendry at 3/33 is a great deal for the Jays.
Wow that’s a lot less money then I expected him to go for
Wow another surprise. Can’t really hate the deal since it’s total likely equals 1 and half years of EE.
Which could very easily be much better than three years of Morales.
Yes, but then you’d have to pay EE for another two and a half years on top of that. And those years might not be as good.
God I love your username.
Happy the Jays got a power bat from the left side finally. I still think there is a chance Edwin stays. It’s time to move on from Jose
doing pretty good with your predictions so far MLBTR !
No kidding. Hey Tim, forget about mlb free agents, what numbers do you like in this week’s lottery?
I like this deal, gives them more money to get a few other things done
I’d put money on it that Joey Bats is leaving and they sign Reddick. This team might look a lot pretty different next year. This is a good pick up for them.
This means EE is gone now. There is no way they would block the 1B/DH position for the next 3-4 years with Telley coming up (he looks like a legit prospect with a lot of pop). Plus, Vlad Jr will be probably ready by then as well (I am not convinced yet that he can play defense).
Next step would be to sign Fowler and Reddick. The Jays can afford to lose a 1st pick (for Fowler) considering they will be getting 2 back when EE and JB sign elsewhere.
Well someone has to play 1B next season and that won’t be Morales who can’t play the position anymore and no way in hell will it be Smoak.
I agree with you. Smoak must be the most frustrating player on the team.
Correct! This is not Edwin’s replacement!
Morales is not Encarnacion’s replacement for 160 games, just the 85 games he played DH. And because Encarnacion is really not able to play any position for 160 games, he won’t be on the Blue Jays in 2017. Encarnacion’s agent Paul Kinzer has said that the Red Sox are at the top of the list of teams pursuing him.
Where do you get your info from? His agent has made it perfectly clear that the Blue Jays are EE’s number one choice and everyone else is a distant second, he also said that there have been limited talks with the Red Sox. The team at the top of the pursuit list is the Astros, or at least that’s what’s been reported.
Colabello will be back.
I dunno. I think you probably see a Smoak/Colabello platoon.
They got a good guy. Power from both sides of the plate plus he showed some athleticism playing some outfield when needed.Not bad at first either.Wish him well he helped my Royals a ton.
Isn’t this close to the exact extension the Mariners offered him after 2013? Maybe for an additional million a year.
Also note that Morales is Cuban. If Gurriel makes the 25-man roster, Morales could be a good mentor for him
Wonder if the man would have accepted a qualifying offer. My guess is yes.
Well, probably not, since he got 33 million dollars instead.
Note that this deal will be backloaded, as is standard with Jays contracts (see Happ, Martin), Good amount of money coming off the books next year (Liriano, Estrada, Upton, etc.) and Morales’s salary will escalate.
This should mark a good chance for the Blue Jays to begin re-bolstering their farm with two additional draft picks. The additional hitter they sign would have to be draft-pick-compensation free though (Moss and Reddick make sense as left-handed hitters and could probably be had for a similar contract to Morales.)
I can see the same scenario playing out. Moss as a 1B and outfield corner fill in and Reddick as a RF. The Jays could use the extra draft picks too.
I wonder if the Nationals non tender Ben Revere if he could end up back in TO? His defense wasn’t great in LF but he seemed to excel as the Jays leadoff guy when he was here.
The Morning After Pillar
If Revere can rebound from his poor 2016 he would add lots of contact and speed to the lineup
Love Revere’s contact hitting ability and his blazing speed, as others have said. I don’t think his D is any kind of BAD in LF and I do remember him making some unlikely plays also.
Didn’t they just sigh Justin Smoke to a decent contract this past season?
No. 2 years for a total of $7m or so.
2 years/$8.5 million for 2017-2018 with an option for 2019. He is going to play alot. Platooning with Colabello?
Colabello will probably be let go. He had an abysmal year in AAA upon his return from his suspension
Phillies got Kendrick
This does NOT mean Edwin is gone. I repeat, this signing does NOT mean Edwin is gone! It’s protection incase they lose Edwin and a very reasonable priced DH. Edwin plays 1B and they switch occasionally!
if they re-sign edwin as well then where is the rest of the money for the 2 outfielders and 3-4 relievers that the jays still need?
The rest of the money is in Rogers vault. Do you happen to know what the Blue Jays payroll is going to be next year? I think not. Nor does anyone else.
How many games did Encarnacion play 1B? 74 games. His defense was atrocious this past year. He is a DH that can occasionally play 1B. Which is what he will do in Boston.
I still think Houston is a player along with Texas and angels possible trade of cj cron split time with Albert? I personally don’t care to waste a draft pick on ee as a red sox fan unless his price is way down I’m OK with a beltran or someone like that and continue to build around our young guys with more young guys.
Actually no , his defence wasn’t atrocious, he played a lot better than expected.The question is can he physically take on a role at first base for a full season
It depends on how one defines atrocious. His dWAR was -1.2.
He was pretty atrocious – that’s the consensus.
And he would need to be able to handle it for more than a season – Morales is signed for 3 years, and EE isn’t taking a one year deal.
Come halfway through year 1, or 2, or 3, there’s no DH spot to move EE to, when he inevitably gets worse than he already is.
There is no such consensus because Encarnacion wasn’t just good at 1B, he was one of the better defensive 1Bs in baseball.
His DRS ranked 20th, his UZR/150 ranked 13th, and he ranked 8th in fangraphs comprehensive Def stat. On top of that I actually watched almost every game he played and can agree with what the stats show: he displayed very good range, surprising athleticism and a solid glove. If he’s interested and able to play an entire season at 1B I would have no problem handing him the job for the next few years.
His defense was far from atrocious, he was actually very good defensively at 1B this last season. Both the eye test and the stats back that up. In fact Encarnacion rated as the 8th best defensive 1B (min 400 innings) inn all of baseball.
His defense at first base was not atrocious. That’s false.
What…you just…DECIDED his defense was atrocious?
The end of EE but Jose will be back.
I agree with you. I believe this move means EE is moving on, but Bau will either (1) accept the QO; or (2) sign a two-year deal. And from a position perspective, I think Bau will get the bulk of his time at 1B, with some spot time in RF when they need the DH spot for other guys.
From what I’ve seen Morales can still play a bit of 1B, but Hosmer was so good defensively KC did not use him there much at all.
Possible I spose. But, if EE and Bats DON’T BOTH leave, I kinda see it going the opposite direction.
Although I agree with everyone that Smoak is not the answer at 1B, I would be shocked if they sign EE for 4 or 5 years with Tellez coming up over the next few years. Morales can play 1B occasionally and will occupy most of the time the DH slot. Signing EE now would mean that both positions are occupied for at least the next 3 years for 36 millions a year. I can’t see that happening.
Tellez is no guarantee. It is imprudent to hitch a team’s future in a far off prospect. Besides, having the DH allows the Jays to move Edwin off 1B. There is also the tried and true method of clearing a logjam – trade someone!
Would Edwin still have his 10 and 5 no-trade if he re-signs?
He’s not that far-off. He could be the Jays’ 1B in 2018 if he has another strong year in the minors next year. Sure, you can’t necessarily count on him being your 1B one day, but by the same token, it’s kind of silly to go out of your way to block his positions (1B/Dh) for 3 years when he’s on your radar.
I just don’t think you worry too much about the future when you are trying to win now. Signing high quality major league hitters isn’t “going out of your way” to block someone, it’s improving the current product.
Yes, EE is probably gone… for all the reasons stated here and the distinct possibility that TOR could need more DH at bats and/or reps at 1B for Tulo should he continue to wear down on that artificial turf between now and 2020.
The turf is not an issue. It’s actually quite a bit spongier than real grass and plays better to the older guys. The issue you speak of was from 4 years ago. They have changed to since then.
That’s not what carlos beltran stated and I respect his opinion.
That was 4 years ago. The turf has changed since then, or did you not read my comment fully?
Beltran signed three years ago which puts him with in that 4 year window. I read it fully.
I agree with everyone who believes that Encarnacion is not returning to the Blue Jays. It would take more millions to sign him, so the Blue Jays were wise in signing Morales. Kendry Morales has played super well the past two seasons and this a great signing. Nice job Blue Jays.
Cashman steps in EE to the Bombers.! He can DH and back up Bird at 1b.
Bird is starting in triple a. his defense was attrocious in fall league and he needs some more seasoning with his approach anyway.
Morales ($11m AAV) + whoever they sign as a corner OF / 1B type will likely have a combined AAV similar to what EE will get.
In other words it will be this off-season’s version of inking Estrada ($13m AAV) & Happ ($12m AAV) while saying goodbye to Price ($31m).
Never thought of it like that great point. Allows for more depth then I likeep the idea personally.
An idea to throw out. A pretty flexible contract like, it allows the Jays to throw more money at Cespedes if they wanted to.
I like this very much as an Astros fan. Go get Encarnacion!
Morales can’t tie EEs shoes. Thinking the BJ lineup is quickly loosing luster.
The deal for Morales was put in place 3 days ago when the Jays were still making a push for EE. They can both still alternate between 1B and DH. I still think somebody not in EE’s shortlist makes an offer he can’t refuse though. Last we heard the Jays are on the top of the shortlist but they got surprised by teams not on his shortlist.
Ee hasn’t played the field @ a 90+ game clip since he was a third baseman back in 2010 does anyone really think he can be a everyday player in the field 7 years later and 7 years older? And for 3 years?
This nailed it. Morales is not playing the field, and EE hasn’t been nearly an everyday fielder in over half a decade.
There’s a reason why EE clogged up the DH spot while they ran Smoak out there for half the starts. Lord knows, Bautista could have used a few more days as the DH – but no, gotta respect the fact that EE is a poor, poor fielder.
And he ain’t getting better in the next 3 years.
Your logic doesn’t really fly when EE played so many games at 1B. It’s not like he played 20 games there and clogged up the DH slot otherwise, he played 90+ games there. Bautista had plenty of turns at DH (26), and he was injured for 1/3 of the year.
Baseball reference has him not had played 90 plus games in the field since 2010. yes he still plays the field but also needs to spend a significant amount of time as a dh. If you look back @ his games played he plays significantly more and stays significantly more healthy when he plays more than half his games played as a dh. 2016 he played 75 games @ 1b. 2015 he played 59. 2014 he played 80 plus 2 in lf. 2013 10 @ 3b 79 @1b. 2012 1 @3b 3 in lf 68 @1b. 2011 25 @1st 36 @3rd. 2010 95 @ 3rd.
bad signing. he projects for .7 war. he can’t play defense and can’t run after he hits the ball so he is hard to drive in and he doesn’t really have huge power, just good power.
Sure, but good power plays well in the AL East
sure the power is ok there, but the rest of his profile is trash, so other than the 25 homers he will hit he drags the team down. he projects less than 10% better than average with the bat and his basrunning drags that down to about 3-5% and he literally can’t play defense.
add in this contract is for his ages 33-36 and this is a poor use of resources.
Only 25 HRs? So I guy who hit 30 HR’s playing half is games in spacious Kaufmann Stadium and more games in larger AL Central parks in general is going to hit less at HR friendly Roger’s Centre and a bunch more games in other hitter friendly AL East parks than he has in the past? Morales had the 12th best exit velocity in the majors last year (ahead of everyone on the Jays including EE and Joey Bats and even JD), and was among the lead leaders in average distance as well (again, ahead of EE, JB, and JD on the Jays). His power numbers should go up, not down, and this is precisely the potential the Jay’s seen in his bat when they signed Morales. (as for the rest of the “profile” he only draws less walks than EE, but hits for better average, and they are both slow as all hell so he is not that much off of what the Jay’s are loosing in EE and for half the price)
So who plays 1st now? Smoak? I think JB makes more sense now than EE since he can play 1B and some OF. While I don’t mind the signing I wonder if the Jays were better off finding a true 1B so that they can still rotate the DH spot with the other regulars.
This is a good signing for the Jay’s. It gives a middle of the order switch hitter. Morales should be able to play some 1st which he hasn’t in KC because the Royals weren’t going to take their gold glove Hosmer out of their lineup. I can see the Jay’s looking at another 1st base option and shipping Smoak out in a trade. perhaps Moss which would be similar to last off season in which they signed Happ/Estrada for less per yr than Price. There isn’t money for a 5yr 125 mil deal for Encarnacion
Great pickup. Now trade erstrada Pompey
Trade erstrada Pompey prospect for Yelich
Jays are going to trade Stroman+ for votto. Book it…
As a sox fan I hope you’re right. We’d be better than them by a long shot.( barring another significant move)
Blue Jays have done a great job in getting a respectable DH for short money while picking up a draft pick via the QO.
The Jays have about 40M coming off the books with their FAs alone. They just spent 11M of that. Leaves 29M to spend before any potential increase in payroll given by Rogers. It doesn’t make sense to pay EE 25M a year to be the full time 1B. That would be a disaster as much as I like him. Joey could probably play a decent 1B. He did play 3b in the past. I would rather sign him to 35M/2yrs with an option or possible opt out after year 1. The Jays need the cash to extend Donaldson. Failing Bautista, they need something better than Smoak at 1B. Moreland could fit the bill at around 10M which still leaves plenty of room to address the OF. Reddick in RF is probably 12M AAV. A combo of Morales/Moreland/Reddick would replace most of the lost power, balance out the line up and improve the D. A platoon of M Upton/Cabrera in LF also helps in these areas. And I think the Jays would still have plenty of cash to fill other holes and possibly sign a Holland or Melancon. Is Moreland not an AL Gold Glove finalist? Non of these guys are sexy, but I believe they would get the job done.
Melancon probably 12M AAV as well. So Melancon, Morales, Reddick and Moreland for approx 45M/yr. 5M more than the cost of departing FAs as opposed to at least 40 min to keep aging EE and Bautista. As a Jays fan I hate to see EE and Bautista go, but I would be happy with this. It’s doable, and keeps the Jays contenders for the next two years at least with their young staff.
Signing Pearce if he’s healthy is a decent idea. It appears that bum Smoak is destined to play some first base. Pearce could be his right handed platoon. Only problem is Pearce’s health after just getting surgery. I expect The Jays to make a serious run at Fowler too. Throw in a couple of relievers and we are set. I believe with Pompey, Carrera, Upton and Pillar, adding Fowler would be enough.
They probably went after Morales because EE is likely gone. And will go to Houston. That’s my guess.. I hope baustisa leaves too that would be great. The blue jays either. Homer or SO. they won’t win jack without those two. Donaldson can only do so much.
is it bad that your photo shop is 100x better than the jays official pages cause their picture of him in a jays uniform was painfull