Is it just me, or are there still a lot of free agents out there without teams right now? We’re in the middle of the shit! Spring Training is upon us! And yet, these semi-big names like Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, and Kendrys Morales are still out there. These are three Major League-calibre players! These are guys who can still play the game at a reasonably high level! And they’re out there, just waiting for a team to pick them up.
I’m not hip to the situations surrounding Cruz and Santana so much, but I know exactly why Morales is still out there. You sign Morales and you lose your first round pick (unless you’ve got a protected top 10 pick). Somehow, Morales must not have fit in among the other nine teams at the bottom of the league with a protected pick (the Mariners are in there as well), and now he’s playing the waiting game. There are rumors he may go to Pittsburgh or the Mets, but come on. You’re going to put a guy with his history of injuries out in the field at first base on a regular basis? Get real!
It makes you wonder how upset he must be with the Mariners. It’s partly our fault that he’s in this mess. We made the qualifying offer of a little over $14 million for 1 year. Once he turned that down, it meant the cost of another team signing Morales included a first rounder. Then again, do you think he’s kicking himself for turning that deal down? What are the odds he gets that deal anywhere else? I’d say nil. Hell, I don’t even think he gets that deal from the Mariners anymore!
Here’s the thing you have to understand about Kendrys Morales: he’s a pretty good bat and nothing else. A lot of people are down on him because he provides no defensive value and negative base-running value. You can spot-start him at first base and he’ll be okay, but he’s not a guy you want to run out there on a regular basis, because he’ll eventually strain something and then you’ve lost your DH for a week or more.
In spite of all of his weaknesses, I’d still like to get him back. Even if it’s just for a year, so he can burn through 2014 and sign somewhere else next year without restrictions. And, before you tell me the Mariners have too many 1B/DH types on this team, let me explain.
Justin Smoak is no sure thing. Logan Morrison is no sure thing. I’m reasonably confident in Corey Hart’s abilities, and while I know he should probably be the DH (to mitigate any injury concerns), that’s just not realistic. Corey Hart is GOING to play in the outfield. That’s all there is to it, so you better get used to it. Now, would you rather have Kendrys Morales back, have him start at DH where he belongs, and know that you’re going to get mostly positive offensive production? Or, would you rather have Nelson Cruz, have him start in the outfield where he’s terrible, and wonder whether you’re going to get ANYTHING positive out of him offensively outside of a few more home runs than you’d otherwise get from Morales?
I’ll take the DH. People like to crap all over the DH, but if Edgar Martinez has taught us anything, it’s the importance of having a reliable everyday DH. Going from Edgar, to the non-stop onslaught of mediocrity that followed in Edgar’s wake after he retired, leaves me content if I can just find a guy to sit there and do that one thing really well. I don’t care if Morales brings nothing to the table defensively. It beats the shit out of having the worst DH in baseball year-in and year-out because you don’t value the position enough to fill it with a full time Major Leaguer.
Kendrys Morales isn’t the difference between me completely giving up on this season and me sort of giving up on this season, but he’s a known commodity. At this point, I’ll take a known commodity over taking a flyer on a used-up roided-out has-been (not to mention the sloppy seconds of the Texas Fucking Rangers).