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Angels send Morales to Mariners for Vargas

The SportsXchange

The Los Angeles Angels, who needed to clear a spot in the lineup, found a willing trade partner in the Seattle Mariners, a team in need of an offensive boost.

The result was the Wednesday deal that sent first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales to the Mariners in exchange for left-hander Jason Vargas.

The recent arrival of Josh Hamilton in Anaheim left the Angels with too many players to man their outfield, first base and DH slots.

Hamilton figures to take over in left field, with American League Rookie of the Year Mike Trout in center and Mark Trumbo in right. The Angels are set at first base with Albert Pujols. Thus, if Morales remained, he would have shared time with slick-fielding, speedy outfielder Peter Bourjos.

The deal with Seattle allows Bourjos to play in the outfield, with the others sharing DH duties.

Morales, 29, is best known for fracturing his left ankle while jumping on home plate to complete a walk-off grand slam on May 29, 2010 -- against the Mariners.

He didn't return to the major leagues until the start of the 2012 season, as the ankle required multiple surgeries. Morales had a solid comeback year, hitting .273 with a .320 on-base percentage, a .467 slugging percentage, 22 homers and 73 RBI in 134 games.

Morales enjoyed his best season in 2009, when he hit .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBI. He finished fifth in AL MVP voting that year. In six major league seasons, all with the Angels, Morales has a .281 career average with a .331 on-base percentage, a .491 slugging percentage, 79 homers and 265 RBI.

"We have been focused on adding offense this offseason, and feel that Kendrys will be a middle-of-the-order bat for us," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement, according to the Seattle Times. "He's a switch-hitter with power who has played, and hit, in the AL West. He's familiar with the teams and parks and is a proven run-producer. We hate to part with Jason, and really appreciate everything he's done for us, but we are in a situation where we had to give up talent to acquire talent."

Vargas, 29, is coming off the best season of his career. He set a career high in wins while going 14-11. His 3.85 ERA was a career low, and his 33 starts were his top total. In seven total major league seasons with the Florida Marlins, New York Mets and Seattle, Vargas has a 42-50 record with a 4.35 ERA in 150 games (130 starts).

Both Morales and Vargas are in their final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency. The Times estimated that Morales' salary might double from just under $3 million to just under $6 million. Vargas' salary, which was just under $5 million last season, should see a significant boost, too.
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