By request, here’s my quick take on the Angels signing of Kendry Morales to a six year major league contract, including a $3 million signing bonus, with incentives that could push the total possible value to $10 million.
It’s a big risk, one I’m not sure is justifiable. Everybody who saw him agrees that he’s got work to do before he’s an impact major league player, and most teams wanted him to start the season in the minors. The signing is essentially equivalent to contracts handed out to the top selections in the amateur draft the past few seasons. By comparison, the Brewers gave Rickie Weeks, a college player drafted #2 overall and believed to be not far from the majors, a 5 year major league contract with $3.6 million signing bonus, $4.8 million guaranteed (including the bonus), and a $5.5 million value if all incentives are reached. The Angels paid Morales comparably to an elite draft choice. Is he that kind of player?
I doubt it. There’s a reason teams just don’t select first baseman that highly in the draft. Not one amateur first baseman was selected last June. Billy Butler, taken #11 overall, will likely end up at first eventually despite being selected as a third baseman, but the fact that a player with his offensive abilities slipped to the eleventh spot speaks to how highly teams value defensive ability in their prospects. If you’re going to be an impact first baseman, you’re going to have to hit an absolute ton, and the hitting tool is by far the hardest to scout. Compound that with the limited information clubs had in regards to Morales compared to a normal prospect, and the ability to project his bat at the major league level is even more difficult. If he doesn’t hit, he’s not going to be worth a darn, and the Angels will be out around $5-6 million. That’s a significant amount of money to any franchise.
Morales may work out and become a solid contributor. But by including incentives that make his total contract worth $10 million, the odds of him being a huge bargain are pretty slim. The best case scenario is that they’ve got a good player making pretty good money. It just doesn’t seem that the reward justifies the significant risk in this signing. I’m glad the M’s didn’t make this kind of commitment to Morales.