Kendrys Morales Declines Qualifying Offer
Kendrys Morales may be a Seattle Mariner next year, but it won’t be on a one year, $14 million contract, as he declined the team’s qualifying offer today and is now a compensation-attached free agent. Scott Boras will look to land him a big money multi-year contract this winter, to which I offer him a hearty good luck. As a rule, I generally try not to doubt that Boras can convince someone to be foolish with their money, but this might be his biggest challenge in a while. Morales isn’t that good and as a DH, his market will be heavily limited, so Boras is going to have to pull a bit of a rabbit out of a hat if he’s going to find a pot of gold for his client.
For the Mariners, they now have three choices:
1. Engage Morales and try to re-sign him to a multi-year contract.
2. Celebrate their new-found draft pick and extra pool allocation, not make Morales another offer, and go find a cheaper player who can provide value at DH without costing them that pick or Boras’ asking price.
3. Settle in for a long game of chicken, keep the DH spot available for Morales but hold firm at a much lower price than Boras is asking for, and simply wait for him to get to the end of the off-season without a significant contract, then swoop in as the hero who will give him a job after a winter of rejection. This is the Adam LaRcohe plan, basically, but hopefully at even a lower price than the Nationals re-signed LaRoche for last winter.
Personally, I’d go for door #2. It’s just not that hard to find a player who can produce at something close to Morales’ level, and the pick should have significant value to the team, especially if they punt a pick or two (as expected) in pursuing free agents this winter. While people will say that the Mariners are at the point where they need to start prioritizing winning now over the future, the reality is that you always prioritize both, and undervaluing a draft pick just because the team has spent years rebuilding with little success is silly. The pick has value, and it shouldn’t just be frittered away because people aren’t willing to see that there are a lot of guys in baseball who can perform about as well as Kendrys Morales.
Door #3 wouldn’t be an awful strategy, though it would leave them open to the possibility that Boras never does back off his ridiculous demands and they end up watching better alternatives get acquired while hoping for a potential ending that might not ever develop. Door #1 is the one to be afraid of, as its pretty easy to see the team trying to sell an off-season of Ellsbury, Morales, and free agent pitchers as the Winter of Hope and Dreams. That plan kind of sucks though, and it’s the one to root against.