Yesterday, the Mariners acquired Kendrys Morales from the Minnesota Twins and, in exchange, sent Stephen Pryor packing. It seemed like the writing was on the wall since this offseason, the Mariners wanted their man and they would go ten rounds to get him.
Round 1: The Mariners extend a qualifying offer to Morales during the offseason. If he agrees to the offer, he would earn $12 million on a one year contract. If he doesn’t agree to the offer and signs elsewhere, the Mariners would receive a compensatory draft pick from the signing team.
Round 2: Morales doesn’t accept the Mariner’s offer and doesn’t sign elsewhere.
Round 3: Morales spend the first three months of the season as a free agent, the compensatory draft pick looming over him like a shadow.
Round 4: After a rough April, the Mariners continue to build momentum and find themselves in the midst of a playoff race by June.
Round 5: After the draft in June, Morales is free to sign with another team without having to worry about the compensatory draft pick.
Round 6: Just two days after the draft, Morales signs a prorated $ 7 million, one year contract with the Minnesota Twins.
Round 7: Even though the Mariners are holding a playoff spot in the Wild Card race, its clear that they will need an upgrade to their offense. They’re linked to a number of different names—Marlon Byrd, Ben Zobrist, Billy Butler—but they keep their eye on the prize.
Round 8: Without a Spring Training to get himself ready for the season, Morales sputters out of the gate, hitting just .215 in June.
Round 9: After the All-Star break, the Mariners offensive woes hit an all time high, they’re hitting just .235 as a team.
Round 10: After a long dance, the Mariners finally get their man. The Twins paid him $3 million to play for them for 2 months and get a busted relief prospect in return.
In Morales, the Mariners are making a gamble. He’s clearly not in midseason form but the Mariners are hoping that he’ll round into shape down the stretch into the playoffs. But, underneath it all, this move is really a vote of no confidence in Corey Hart. It’s clear that something is broken in Corey Hart. Maybe its the whole year that he missed last year or just old age catching up to him but he looks like a shell of his former self. Here are Morales’ and Hart’s batting lines from this year, side by side:
Both of them are pretty ugly. Neither of them inspires any confidence. The Mariners are gambling that Morales is on his way up while Hart is in the midst of a long spiral down. They’ll both rotate through the lineup at first base and designated hitter with Logan Morrison so if either of them gets on a hot streak, the Mariners will have their offensive upgrade. But there is a chance that neither of them will turn their season around and the Mariners will be stuck with a black hole at first and at designated hitter. Let’s hope that Morales isn’t the only man the Mariners have their eye on in the week before the trade deadline.