Kendrys Morales very quietly had a solid season for the Seattle Mariners in 2013. Enough so that GM Jack Zduriencik said Tuesday on 710 ESPN Radio in Seattle (per MLB.com’s Greg Johns) that the team was planning on extending a qualifying offer to the impending free agent, presuming the two sides are unable to reach an agreement before he officially reaches free agency.
Morales hit .277/.336/.449 in 657 PA this past season, adding 23 HR and 34 2B. He’s mostly a DH at this point of his career, despite being just 30 years old.
Extending a qualifying offer is a risky move for the Mariners. First, should Morales accept it he’ll end up with a one year valued in the neighborhood of $14 Million. It’s a large sum to pay a player who doesn’t play the field and more than David Ortiz is scheduled to receive from the Boston Red Sox (he’s due $11 Million, down from the $14 Million he earned in 2013) as the game’s top DH. Morales earned $5.25 Million in 2013. Over the course of his five year career he’s earned a total of $13.5 Million, according to Baseball Reference. While it’d just be a one year deal, receiving such a significant raise in one year’s time would be highly appealing for any player.
Perhaps more importantly, labeling Morales with a qualifying offer could hurt his chances of signing a multi-year deal on the open market. A signing team would need to forfeit a draft pick to sign him, potentially limiting Morales’ ability to seek as big a payday on the open market.
Seattle’s making a risky move tipping their hand so early here. Morales could easily accept the qualifying offer, retain the big payday, and return to Seattle – an area he’s familiar with and clearly comfortable – for another season before testing the free agent market. Knowing that the potential added loss of a draft pick could turn off interested teams, Morales could simply take the safest route. If the Mariners are so intent on retaining him for the season to come (and beyond), then perhaps their best course of action could be to examine what it would take to lock Morales up for a multi-year deal before he’s able to formally reach the open market.