The last holdout from 2013's free agent class has a home. According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales is headed to the Minnesota Twins on a one-year deal, pending a physical.
Morales, who turned down a $14 million qualifying offer from the Seattle Mariners over the winter, found suitable offers difficult to come by leading up to the season. By turning down that qualifying offer, any team that signed Morales prior to the 2014 first-year player draft would have forfeited their highest unprotected draft pick. Obviously, that pushed many teams away, and agent Scott Boras, who faced the same problem with shortstop Stephen Drew, has gone on record several times stating that the systen is broken.
Drew ended up re-signing with the Boston Red Sox last month for $10 million, which worked out to be the prorated amount of the $14 million qualifying offer. Exact financial terms for Morales have not been revealed, but it sounds as though he'll be getting a similarly prorated deal.
Kendrys Morales will make less than Stephen Drew but "in the ballpark," says a source. Still needs to take physical. #twins— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) June 7, 2014
Interest in Morales began to pick up again this week as the draft neared. The Yankees, Brewers, Rangers, Royals and even the Mariners, who would not have forfeited a pick for Morales, were all strongly linked in recent days.
All things considered, that makes his signing with Minnesota a bit of a surprise. With Mark Teixeira's wrist still bothering him and Prince Fielder out for the season in Texas, he would have seemed like a perfect fit in either of those lineups, not to mention the short porch at Yankee Stadium had to be somewhat enticing for a player looking for a pay day down the road. Apparently not, or perhaps more likely the offers just didn't match up for what will amount to four months of service.
At 28-31, the Twins are still relevant in the AL Central and they obviously feel like they have a run in them. Still, a postseason berth seems highly unlikely this season. In a perfect world, they'll contend and Morales will be a big part of it. But it's also possible they'll look able to spin him for a prospect or two at the trade deadline if it doesn't work out. One would think that possibility also played a role in Minnesota's decision to pursue him and ultimately sign him up.
As for what they're getting in the 30-year-old slugger, Morales slashed .277/.336/.449 for the Mariners last season with 23 home runs and 80 RBIs. So they can expect good power and solid run production. Once he's ready, he should immediately slot into the middle of their order and make them a far better and more interesting offense.
In that regard, they've definitely got our attention. Now let's see if they can hold it through the summer and shock the world in September.
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