Rethinking the Qualifying Offer for Kendrys Morales

Dave · August 25, 2013 at 9:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Back on June 4th, in discussing whether or not the Mariners should offer Kendrys Morales a mid-season contract extension, I wrote the following:

Morales has been excellent for the Mariners this year, no question. He has a 140 wRC+, a mark that would represent a career best if he could keep it up all year long. Other players who have been similarly productive hitters this year: Evan Longoria (144 wRC+), Jose Bautista (141 wRC+), and Prince Fielder (140 wRC+). Yeah, it’s driven a bit by a higher BABIP, and he probably won’t keep hitting at this level over the long haul, but he’s a good hitter who has shown marked improvement from the right side of the plate, which was a real concern heading into the year.

If Morales’ improvements against LHPs are part of a real trend — and Jeff gave us reasons to think that they might be, even before he stated crushing them this year — than it isn’t inconceivable to think that he might very well be headed towards a new, higher level of production. Maybe he’s not a 140 wRC+ guy, but 125-130 doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility given his contact rates, power, and development as a real switch-hitter.

So, yes, the Mariners should be interested in keeping Kendrys Morales. They don’t have enough good players, he fills a need, and it’s nice that he apparently has some interest in returning. However, I don’t think the Mariners need to be too aggressive in pursuing an in-season extension, because thanks to the way free agency works, the Mariners are going to have all the leverage in the world this winter.

Assuming Morales stays healthy and keeps hitting all year, the Mariners can make Kendrys Morales a “qualifying offer” equal to the average of the top 125 salaries in MLB, which will be approximately $14 million for 2014.

Here are Morales’ numbers from when I wrote that post, and then what he’s done since.

Before 236 8% 17% 0.191 0.335 0.299 0.364 0.490 0.375 144
After 290 7% 18% 0.140 0.293 0.269 0.321 0.409 0.321 108

That “higher BABIP” that was referenced in the post has regressed by 40 points, and while his home run rate is similar, his doubles have been drastically reduced as well, leading to significantly lower power output. Over the last couple of months, Kendrys Morales just hasn’t been very good, and that post serves as a nifty reminder of the dangers of assuming that players have made significant improvements on the basis of 250 good at-bats. For the first two months of the season, Morales looked really good, and then ever since, he’s performed below his career norms. There were reasons to think that maybe Morales was getting better, but he’s basically taken the legs out of that argument since the beginning of June.

So, now, we’re left with Kendrys Morales looking an awful lot like Kendrys Morales. Over the whole season, his wRC+ is 120, almost exactly even with the 118 he put up last year, and right in line with his 118 career wRC+. His numbers look even more similar to his career totals when you break down the components.

Season BB% K% ISO BABIP Swing Contact
2013 6.9% 17.6% 0.167 0.320 48.1% 76.6%
Career 6.7% 18.0% 0.200 0.308 47.4% 77.6%

The power is down a little bit and could be expected to tick upwards before the season ends, but that’s basically offset by the fact that his BABIP is still a little higher than usual. Overall, his numbers are almost exactly what you’d expect from a 30-year-old Kendrys Morales, and right in line with what the pre-season forecasts suggested he was likely to do this season. So, rather than having a new and improved Kendrys Morales, the Mariners look like they just have regular old Kendrys Morales, and regular old Kendrys Morales isn’t good enough to be worth the qualifying offer.

As noted in the post from a few months back, making a free agent a qualifying offer means that the team is committed to an offer equal to the average of the 125 highest salaries in baseball that year, which is expected to come out at around $14 million for 2014; it was $13.3 million this year, so it will go up a little bit. The offer doesn’t have to be accepted, but if the Mariners made Morales the qualifying offer, he’d have seven days to evaluate his options in the free agent market before deciding whether or not to take 1/14 instead of what he thinks he could get from another team. Another team that also would have to forfeit a draft pick in order to outbid the qualifying offer.

Put simply, that isn’t happening. In the quoted post, I compared Morales’ situation to Adam LaRoche a year ago, but Morales’ 2013 simply doesn’t measure up to LaRoche’s 2012. LaRoche is considered a terrific defensive first baseman, and he outhit Morales while also spending the entire year playing the field, meaning that his skills theoretically appealed to all 30 clubs. Morales proved, once again, that he’s strictly a DH and emergency first baseman, and he would only solicit offers from AL clubs. The fact that half the league wouldn’t even bother making a bid would significantly hurt his value, and that’s before we get into the draft pick issue.

So, if the Mariners make Kendrys Morales a qualifying offer, they have to do so with every expectation that he’d accept it. And realistically, there are better ways to spend $14 million of the 2014 budget.

For his career, Morales has been worth +1.7 WAR per 600 plate appearances, and that’s with a positive fielding rating from his time at first base. As a DH who provides no real defensive value, Morales is more of a +1 WAR player. I know some people think it’s sacrilege to suggest that a pretty good major league hitter isn’t actually all that valuable, but as the 2013 Mariners have fabulously demonstrated, there’s more to to winning games than assembling a line-up of guys who can swing the stick and suck at everything else. And let’s be clear: Morales is completely useless at every part of baseball that isn’t hitting.

Specifically, Morales’ baserunning is absolutely atrocious. This is the kind of thing that doesn’t get talked about much, because no one really expects much speed from their DH, but there’s still a minimum level of competency expected from a Major League player on the bases, and Morales fails to meet even that low standard.

For his career, Kendrys Morales has attempted 16 stolen bases; he’s been successful on just four of those 16 attempts. A 25% stolen base rate is hilariously bad, and thankfully, he’s stopped trying to steal, as he hasn’t run once this year. But baserunning is more than just stolen base attempts, and at FanGraphs, we track Ultimate Baserunning (or UBR for short), which evaluates a player in runs above or below average based on how often he does things like advancing from first to third on a single, scoring from second base on a base hit, tagging up on a fly ball to the outfield, etc…

By UBR, Morales has been the 5th worst baserunner in the game this year, producing 4.5 fewer runs on the bases than an average baserunner. The only players worse than Morales: Paul Konerko (old DH), Allan Craig (slow-footed 1B), Victor Martinez (old DH), and Jonathan LuCroy (catcher). Justin Smoak is 6th, by the way, right behind Morales. This is the domain of non-athletes who run about as well as the average fan attending the game, and this is one of the reasons why a team full of DHs won’t score as many runs as you might think just from looking at their batting lines.

And no, I’m not just picking on some flukey number that makes Morales look worse than he actually is. Since his rookie season of 2006, Morales’ -28.2 UBR is the 8th worst in baseball. But here’s the amazing thing: that stretch includes a ton of time on the disabled list, and everyone else in the top 10 has at least 4,000 plate appearances since 2006, while Morales has fewer than 2,300. Seriously, look at the list and note the PA discrepancy.

Name PA UBR UBR/600
Paul Konerko 4684 -47.2 -6.0
Prince Fielder 5415 -35.8 -4.0
Ryan Howard 4628 -35.4 -4.6
David Ortiz 4534 -34.3 -4.5
Billy Butler 4064 -31.7 -4.7
Brian McCann 4067 -30.7 -4.5
Carlos Lee 4452 -28.3 -3.8
Kendrys Morales 2284 -28.2 -7.4
Adrian Gonzalez 5349 -27.5 -3.1
Jorge Posada 2605 -27.5 -6.3

I’ve included a rate stat of UBR per 600 PAs as a comparison, and as you can see, no one is even really all that close to Morales in negative baserunning value per plate appearance. Even Jesus Montero, the guy who needed a running coach because he simply doesn’t know how to put one leg in front of the other, has posted a -6.6 UBR in 732 big league plate appearances. Montero was a better baserunner in his first year in the big leagues than Morales has been over his entire career.

And it’s not like he’s going to get any better at this as he gets older. He’s only going to get slower, and there’s not really much reason to believe that this could be mitigated in the future. Kendrys Morales is a terrible baserunner even relative to other DHs, and it takes away from his value as a player.

Toss in the lack of defensive value, and Morales is the epitome of a bat-only player. For a guy to create the entirety of his value at the plate and provide significant value, he has to really be a terrific hitter. Those guys exist, certainly, as David Ortiz and Prince Fielder have been very good big leaguers while also being terrible baserunners and providing nothing of use on defense. But Kendrys Morales is not David Ortiz or Prince Fielder. He has the same career wRC+ as Mike Carp. Mike Carp’s bat with even less defense and league-worst baserunning is not something you spend $14 million on, not even for just one year.

Morales isn’t without use, and I wouldn’t suggest that the Mariners just cut him loose without making an offer to re-sign him. But that offer shouldn’t be a $14 million offer. $14 million should buy you a lot more than a mediocre DH on the wrong side of 30. I think at this point, realistically, Morales is probably worth something like $8 or $9 million for one year, maybe with some kind of vesting option for a second year if he wants a chance to play his way into a guarantee for 2015. He’s a better player than Mark Reynolds, who got $6 million from the Indians last winter, and the lack of good hitters in free agency will serve to drive his price up closer to $10 million, especially if he agrees to settle on a one year deal.

But the qualifying offer should be off the table at this point. Morales isn’t a $14 million player, and they shouldn’t be interested in him at that price. No one else is giving him $14 million for 2014, and even if the Mariners really want him back, they should simply let him hit free agency and let the market tell Scott Boras what it thinks of aging DHs who can’t run. And if some team out there wants to give him a two or three year contract, let him walk. His skillset is not that hard to find, and there’s no reason to pay a premium to get it in a certain package.


44 Responses to “Rethinking the Qualifying Offer for Kendrys Morales”

  1. Hunter S. Thompson on August 25th, 2013 9:22 pm

    I have to say I’ve been waiting for this post for a while, for a good part because of all what Dave says here, but also for another fact.

    Signing Morales locks up the DH spot, assuming you pencil in Smoak at first that leaves little flexibility in the bargains you can try to pick up. I’d rather throw the $14 million at the OF options out there. The DH spot being open would put players like Beltran in play, or other veterans that may need occasional days off from the field. Morales puts us back in the position we are now where a bat only player like Ibanez or Morse get put in the field, we can’t have that again.

  2. scraps on August 25th, 2013 9:27 pm

    Funny. I’ve thought for a while now that Morales was overrated by the educated part of Mariners’ fandom, but I’ve not said anything because those people are very more educated than I.

    Sigh. Another thing we thought was pretty good about the Mariners that ended up bleah.

  3. scraps on August 25th, 2013 9:31 pm

    I wonder whether we’d want Vargas back….

  4. Hunter S. Thompson on August 25th, 2013 9:35 pm

    Morales is still okay at the (I think $7 million or so we are paying him this year) so its not like he hasn’t been good for the M’s this year the question is, is he worth $14 million going forward?

    The second question is, how likely is he to take the qualifing offer, is it worth the gamble to offer it to him to try to get the supplemental pick? I’d say no, for all the reason’s Dave mention, especially the fact that only half of MLB should be biding on him, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t at least be considered.

  5. Typical Idiot Fan on August 25th, 2013 9:41 pm

    There were good enough reasons to expect that maybe this was a legit improvement. Coming back from a nasty injury that kept him out for a long time could require a bit of time before getting back to his previous injury highs. Sadly, what was possible in the first half has disappeared in the second half.

    Nuts. I rather liked the idea of either keeping a decent player around or at least getting an extra pick for him. The QO was a debatable tactic when he looked like he was on pace for a 2-2.5 win season, and looking like that might be the case going forward. I still think he’s better than his current rate of 1-1.5 wins, but hard to gamble twice to three times that much value in money, even if it is only a one year deal.

  6. Slats on August 25th, 2013 9:50 pm

    So do we pencil in Smoak at first base?

  7. Hunter S. Thompson on August 25th, 2013 9:58 pm


    I’d say we pencil in Smoak at first base, he’s been good enough where you give him another year at a low salary to see if his improvements are for real.
    Honestly I’d focus on a center fielder and probally another outfielder maybe throw a flyer on someone else. That leaves the DH spot open to slot in whom ever.
    Maybe you use it as an extra spot to fit in everyone because you add two outfielders to Saunder and Ackley you can rotate people in the DH spot, with Ackley, Franklin, and Miller spliting time in the MI.

  8. PackBob on August 25th, 2013 10:03 pm

    The base running is the worst part, especially combined with Smoak, Morse, Ibanez, and Montero to start the season. It may be easy to find someone with a similar skillset, but it hasn’t been easy for the Mariners to find somebody, given their production at DH the last few years. If the Mariners got a couple players who could defend and run to replace Morse and Ibanez, I could live with two turtles in Smoak and Morales.

    Making a qualifying offer depends on how Morales finishes, how much money the Mariners have to work with, and who else is actually available. I understand than any value from hitting by Morales is reduced by his base running, but it sure is nice to have anyone that can hit at DH after the last 9 years of futility.

  9. Liam on August 25th, 2013 10:26 pm

    I still make Kendrys Morales a qualifying offer because there’s a lot more upside in doing so. An extra pick at #30 might help if Jack Zduriencik was on the fence with having to part with a draft pick to sign a Ellsbury, Choo or Lincecum.

  10. Westside guy on August 25th, 2013 10:28 pm

    Of Morse, Ibañez, and Morales – I’d prefer Morales be brought back (if the price is reasonable). But I only want to see, at most, one of them on the Mariners roster in 2014.

  11. Dave on August 25th, 2013 10:32 pm

    There’s no draft pick upside to making Morales the qualifying offer because no team is going to give up a draft pick AND give him an offer more appealing than the $14 million he’ll have on the table. There’s basically zero chance of the M’s getting a draft pick out of Morales. Just because you think it’d be neat to get one doesn’t mean anyone else wants to give one up.

  12. Sowulo on August 25th, 2013 10:55 pm

    Most players’ trot to first after receiving a base on balls show more speed and even worse, effort than Morales trying to score from second on a hit or trying to avoid hitting into a double play with a runner on 3rd and one out. I don’t care nearly as much about a runner who is horribly slow (as Edgar was) as I do about one who makes no effort at all. From what I’ve seen Morales gave up long ago.

  13. Typical Idiot Fan on August 25th, 2013 10:55 pm


    You’re discounting the 10 protected teams, who would only lose a second round pick. It is possible one of them might be interested, and losing a second round choice is more palatable than a first. The Indians did it twice last offseason.

  14. scraps on August 25th, 2013 11:05 pm

    Seriously, Sowulo, you really think that Morales shows a lack of effort “trying to score from second on a hit or trying to avoid hitting into a double play with a runner on 3rd and one out”? That’s news to me, to put it mildly. Do you think Eric Wedge just looks away?

  15. Dave on August 25th, 2013 11:15 pm

    The Indians gave up draft picks for Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, both of whom are drastically better than Kendrys Morales. And, seriously, go look at the teams that are going to have top 10 picks and tell me which one is going to sign a DH to a multi-year deal.

  16. Steve Nelson on August 25th, 2013 11:17 pm

    Well, since Zduriencik apparently is intent on bringing back Morse and Ibañez, we should hope that the Mariners don’t make a qualifying offer and Morales walks. But the realist in me thinks that they do make the QO, Morales accepts, and both Ibañez and Morse get new contracts as well.

    Because, you know, the current roster is doing so well there’s little sense in breaking it up, right?

  17. diderot on August 25th, 2013 11:26 pm

    “since Zduriencik apparently is intent on bringing back Morse and Ibañez”…

    I was out of town this week. Was something said to that effect?

  18. Westside guy on August 25th, 2013 11:28 pm

    Steve, I’m hoping that Morse’s swoon will lead to Zduriencik reconsidering any long-term plans he’d made regarding him.

    I’d love it if that were true of Raul as well, but somehow I think even rudimentary logic goes out the window when Z and Wedge think about him.

    But, frankly, the news we’ve heard from the org this week has me expecting a really crappy offseason.

  19. scraps on August 25th, 2013 11:37 pm

    Yeah, me too.

  20. Don Money on August 25th, 2013 11:51 pm

    Bourne and Swisher are “drastically ” better than Morales? Both are nearly a full point lower OWAR and aside from his getting a sore back playing first too many consecutive days, he played a surprisingly effective first base. He can spell Smoak when he needs a rest. Kendrys has been a solid number 4 hitter and has, in my opinion, allowed our younger hitters to develop in lower (RBI ) pressure spots, specifically Smoak and Seager. With the way Ackley’s bat is coming around, we don’t need to create a big hole in the line up by losing Morales, we just need to pursue an outfielder like Ellsbury.

  21. Paul Martin on August 26th, 2013 5:21 am


    1. I think you are underestimating the ability of Scott Borus to get someone interested in signing him. I didn’t think he was going to find homes for Soriano and Lohse last year and he did. I thought they were crazy to turn down the qualifying offers, but it worked out for both of them. How about the Texas Rangers as a team that could sign Morales?

    2. Seattle is going to have to overpay to get anyone not a pitcher to come here. The team has almost ZERO payroll on the books, with TV money coming in. It’s time they spend, and I think Morales on a ONE YEAR DEAL is not that big a deal.

    3. Maybe you could change my mind if you gave me some other options. I see payroll going over 100 million next year, so I don’t see Morales at 14 such a big deal. I would rather have the Cuban Abreu, but I doubt Seattle will go after him. Who else do you REALISTICALLY see Seattle signing?

  22. djw on August 26th, 2013 5:46 am

    since Zduriencik apparently is intent on bringing back Morse and Ibañez

    How has his alleged intent manifested itself? Remember, “saying nice things about the players I signed” is boilerplate PR and shouldn’t, in isolation, be read as intent to do anything.

  23. djw on August 26th, 2013 6:46 am

    Bourne and Swisher are “drastically ” better than Morales? Both are nearly a full point lower OWAR

    Did you read the post? Specifically, the part about how offense isn’t the sole measure of player’s value, and Morales hurts his value not just due to his defensive near-uselessness, but his utterly atrocious baserunning? WAR suggests Bourn and Swisher are routinely 3-4 win players, whereas Morales has cleared the 2 WAR threshold only once in his career. What do you think WAR gets wrong about the value of these players?

  24. Sowulo on August 26th, 2013 7:13 am

    Scraps: In a word, YES! He is not a slow man trying to run hard. He only takes an easy jog. A couple of games ago he got thrown out at second on what should have been a hit by Saunders. He showed no sign of hustle. He went in standing up and slowing as he arrived and it was a fairly close play. A little effort and a slide would have meant runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out.

    Part of this extends to the whole team and therefore Wedge/Thompson as well. When was the last time you saw any Mariner with a hard slide into second trying to break up a double play? It doesn’t happen. A couple of games ago, Miller when in casually–and standing up!–on a play to second where the second baseman dropped the ball but Aybar had plenty of time to retrieve the ball and tag him out as he never did make a move to actually get to second. Terrible base running is my one big complaint with this current roster.

    All the other problems I can live with, but stupidity and lack of hustle is completely inexcusable.

    The only possible defense I can come up with for Morales is that he is protecting a leg or back problem (would also explain his power drop-off). But if he is hurting that much, he needs to sit down and get healthy.

  25. Westside guy on August 26th, 2013 7:37 am

    It’s always possible that, given what happened to his ankle, Morales has been told to avoid sliding.

    But then, per Sowulo’s comment, if his body can’t hold up to the day to day stresses of his job…

    I like Kendrys. But Dave makes a compelling argument.

  26. SonOfZavaras on August 26th, 2013 8:09 am

    I’m far more interested in Jason Vargas coming back in 2014 than what I am Kendrys Morales.

    Good post, Dave. Ended all my conflicted thoughts on the matter. I don’t want Morales back unless it’s to our considerable financial adantage to do so.

  27. bergamot on August 26th, 2013 8:29 am

    In light of the facts Dave presented, I’m now convinced that Jack Zduriencik will offer Kendrys a multi-year contract for at least $12 million per year.

  28. Steve Nelson on August 26th, 2013 9:09 am

    Re resigning free agents, in the article below Zduriencik indicated the Mariners have begun negotiations with some, both indirectly and directly.

  29. amnizu on August 26th, 2013 9:35 am

    I agree with Dave and 14 mil would be much better spent on the FA market. There are three or four good outfield options available signing two of those allows DH to be played as a rotated spot for days off for the every day players to get Saunders and Ackley at bats as they move to bench players.

    The problem however, is our current GM has a very bad track record of signing free agents. So bad in fact that I’d rather the team spend that 14 Mil to attract away a GM with a good history of signing free agents.

    2014 and 2015 have to be looked at as win now times for this franchise. The Rangers are aging, Felix is in his prime and the FA market is actually pretty good this off-season. If not now then when?

  30. jephdood on August 26th, 2013 9:55 am

    Jack. Please. No more lumbering, dufus, bat-only, can’t run, can’t throw, can’t field, injury prone players.

    The days of “chicks dig the long ball” are OVER.

    Forgetting Morales, if you re-sign Morse, you should be fired immediately.

  31. ripperlv on August 26th, 2013 10:01 am

    Please say good-bye to Morales, Morse, and Ibanez. My X-mas list includes 3 starting outfielders where Saunders is the 4th outfielder and 3 starting pitchers who don’t resemble cheap innings eaters.

  32. shortbus on August 26th, 2013 10:10 am

    I would be content if the M’s re-signed one of Morse, Ibanez, or Morales to DH next year. But the weakest part of the team is outfield defense and that needs to get fixed. Either that or we need to eliminate the pitch-to-contact starters from the rotation. I mean who the hell creates this outfield for a rotation where Joe Saunders is the #3?

  33. Eastside Crank on August 26th, 2013 10:27 am

    Morales’ ankles are made of glass. It simply is not possible to rebuild the bones that did not develop properly in the first place. The reason he does not slide or run hard is that those events could hurt his ankles and result in the end of his career. The Mariners rolled the dice hoping that Morales would have a career year with the bat. That did not happen and the Mariners need to move on.

  34. stevemotivateir on August 26th, 2013 11:18 am

    I seriously hope the M’s aren’t dumb enough to keep Jack around, but if they are, that Jack isn’t dumb enough to re-sign Morse and Ibanez to address the outfield.

  35. DarkKnight1680 on August 26th, 2013 11:23 am

    There is only one guy over 30 who should be back with this club next year, and that’s Kuma. None of the others are worth a second look: Harang and Saunders are non-contributors, Perez is a throw-and-pray mess, Blanco and Quintero should be supplanted by youth, Ryan should go to a contender that doesn’t need offensive help, Chavez is a replacement level body, Ibanez and Morse are terrible due to uselessness on defense and on the bases (as well as less than stellar offensive players with no versatility), Guti is a human hospital ward, and Wilhelmsen seems very broken. Ditch them all, let the young core grow together, and bring in some veterans who can actually field a position AND not embarrass themselves on offense.

  36. Snuffy on August 26th, 2013 11:51 am

    If the M’s feel the need to spend at DH then Beltran would be the far better option because he could still be used occasionally in the outfield. He’s be more expensive, but he’s a better hitter & far better baserunner & defense. (Yes he has slowed dramatically but Kendrys & Morse are glacial by comparison.) Beltran is looking to play 2 or 3 more years. He’s still a considerable talent but it’s unlikely he could continue to play OF full time.
    And the talk about MSaunders being used as a 4th OF is a bit perplexing. His .761 ops vRHP (200pa+) is 18th in the league for AL outfielders & #8 as a CF’er. He is a solid player who needs to play! He’s better than Ackley & Morse, but he sits. Why?

  37. Westside guy on August 26th, 2013 12:16 pm

    Sounds like the only Mariners veteran whose had a waiver claim made is Kendrys.

    Not too surprising – despite the media talk about the team “showcasing” Morse… no one is going to claim a guy who can’t stay healthy and hasn’t been hitting much since the first few weeks of the season! And Raul seemed to suddenly remember his advanced age at the All-Star break.

  38. eponymous coward on August 26th, 2013 12:29 pm

    And the talk about MSaunders being used as a 4th OF is a bit perplexing. His .761 ops vRHP (200pa+) is 18th in the league for AL outfielders & #8 as a CF’er. He is a solid player who needs to play! He’s better than Ackley & Morse, but he sits. Why?

    He’d probably be better as a corner OF who gets sat a lot against LHP (because he’s pretty much useless against LHP: lifetime OPS under .600). His defensive stats as a CF aren’t great.

    Is that a full time player? Maybe if you move him off of CF. But you sort of need a platoon partner. Shouldn’t be THAT hard to find a RHB lefty masher who isn’t a disaster in the OF, but since this is the Mariners…

  39. californiamariner on August 26th, 2013 1:34 pm

    I think there are some arguments that could be made from a strategic or team constructing strategy that it is worth making Morales the offer. What I mean is the offer pretty much guarantees you get Morales back. It is not always as simple as X Player is worth X Dollars and getting him for that. We have seen over the last few years that free agent hitters aren’t very interested in coming to Seattle. I’m not sure if I want to offer Morales the qualifying offer, so I’m still on the fence a little. But overpaying a few million for a guy that does have one good skill (hitting) that the Mariners have had a hard time acquiring may not be the end of the world.

    With that said, I’d be very interested in the Mariners trading Morales right now and seeing what they can get for him. Waiver claims don’t turn into trades all that often it seems, so I’m not too optimistic yet after today’s report.

  40. MrZDevotee on August 26th, 2013 1:40 pm

    RE: Vargas

    Z was on the postgame show on the radio yesterday talking about how much he’d love to bring Vargas back, citing his success at Safeco, and his love of the town and vice-versa. Maybe just small talk, but interesting on the surface… He said they’ll definitely be looking for someone like that, and having a surplus of starting pitching is never bad in his eyes– you let them compete and slot the remaining guys into bullpen slots.

    So Vargas is on their radar.

    For Dave…

    Is there a point (have we crossed it) where we acknowledge we may have to overpay free agents to bring them here? And how do we figure the value of Seattle Mariner WAR versus the league average… Seems for marquee players it’s a no-brainer that you have to pay more for them to come to a) a team that isn’t winning, and b) a team that travels further than anyone else during the season, and c) a team that has the Angels, Rangers and A’s ahead of them in talent (despite the Angels record).

    Is it smarter for the M’s to avoid them all together and go “quantity” with young guys/prospects and see who blooms? Or do we accept that if we want a guy like Morales (which I don’t really, but I digress) we have to spend $12-14 million, whereas he’d play for a contender for $8-10 million?

  41. eponymous coward on August 26th, 2013 3:05 pm

    But overpaying a few million for a guy that does have one good skill (hitting) that the Mariners have had a hard time acquiring may not be the end of the world.

    The point is he’s not that good a hitter, and if overpaying him means we end up with a weak rotation and a gaggle of bad OFers, we’ve just recreated the 2013 Mariners.

    For all the DINGERS!11!!!, this team is on pace to score a grand total of 18 more runs than last year- so about a tenth of a run a game. Dave’s point is Morales is decent, but hardly irreplaceable- consider that what got us Morales was trading a midlevel starting pitcher.

    Is it smarter for the M’s to avoid them all together and go “quantity” with young guys/prospects and see who blooms?

    Define “smarter”. If you take that argument to a logical conclusion, you get this:

    The Astros are on pace to rake in an estimated $99 million in operating income this season. That is nearly as much as the estimated operating income of the previous six World Series championship teams — combined.

    More here:

    Luhnow maintains that any surplus is best spent on the draft and on developing international talent, and he says the Astros will spend more money than any other team in both areas this year.

    This is actually a pretty “smart” strategy if you are operating a baseball team for profit maximization in the short term (and prospect development), as opposed to how many wins on the baseball field you have now.

    The strategy that the Astros have taken is the one that everyone accuses Mariner management of taking, but obviously, they haven’t (because Felix would be wearing another team’s uniform by now if that was their strategy). I would argue that your proposal of “we won’t sign any FA’s and will build from within only” implies that the M’s should be dealing Kuma and Felix for more of that “quantity” of young guys/prospects (they’d surely fetch them). It would also have the “advantage” of likely making the 2014 team worse, which improves the M’s draft position (and going from #10 to #1 in a draft is a HUGE jump a lot of the time). Having a $25 million rotation anchor on a team that’s averaging 73 wins a year over a decade is like having a Ferrari to haul your trash to the landfill.

    If, on the other hand, you think that you should be wiling to spend some money to make the 2014 Mariners a good team, as long as you’re going to be paying Felix and Kuma over $30 million, without being stupid and spending money just because you can, you make deals that you think reasonably improve the team. The M’s have a revenue source (increased rights fees + their own network) that should comfortably support being aggressive in next year’s FA or trade market. They don’t have a lot of long term salary obligations. We also don’t have a lot of evidence that the M’s must overpay FA’s (the Hamilton contract offer from the M’s probably had less guaranteed money). So I’m not getting the sense that “wanting to contend in 2014 and willing to spend to get there” is the same as “throw crazy money at FAs because Seattle sucks as a place to play”.

  42. Paul B on August 26th, 2013 5:34 pm

    My 2 cents is that Morales on a one year deal is not the end of the world. They could certainly bargain and see if they could get him cheaper. But, if not, oh well.

    And, if the alternative is (as I fear) either Ibanez or Morse, then I’d be for signing Morales. If signing Morales can prevent the M’s from signing Ibanez or Morse for more years, then yay team.

  43. Sports on a Shtick on August 26th, 2013 6:21 pm

    This team has been so terribly constructed and managed. Someone like Morales should have been traded in July.

  44. eponymous coward on August 26th, 2013 11:25 pm

    My 2 cents is that Morales on a one year deal is not the end of the world. They could certainly bargain and see if they could get him cheaper. But, if not, oh well.
    And, if the alternative is (as I fear) either Ibanez or Morse, then I’d be for signing Morales. If signing Morales can prevent the M’s from signing Ibanez or Morse for more years, then yay team.

    What makes you think it’s the alternative, as opposed to a serious possibility that all 3 come back if Morales is signed for a qualifying offer? If you soak up 14 million on a one-year deal for Morales, you’re looking at a payroll commitment of 60 million dollars for 2014, with 2 empty rotation spots and 2 OFers to sign, plus a bench to fill in with some veterans. Unless Mariner payroll is going to go up dramatically, 20 million divided by 4 players + bench leftovers isn’t going to get you A-level talent (even 30 million, a 10 million bump in payroll, might not cover everything you need this winter). This puts you into the realm of the Morses, Harangs and Rauls, and we all know this front office has a non-sexual mancrush on Raul.

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