It's July and the Mariners are out of contention, which means it's time to start thinking about who will be traded. Since the Mariners are full of expiring contracts, there is a high probability that more than one of these players will be dealt as the July 31st deadline approaches. We'll be taking a look at these trade candidates throughout the month of July.
Kendrys Morales is one of Seattle's best offensive threats, although he has cooled down considerably over the past several weeks. As of July 1st, Morales is sporting a .277/.334/.433 line, which seems uncharacteristically low until you note his .571 June OPS, where he struggled with a back injury that kept him out for a few games. Morales' second half production likely lies above what he's done this season to date.
WHY HE'S ATTRACTIVE:
- He's cheap. Morales is making only $5.25 million this year, and a deadline deal would be much more affordable than many other available bats at the deadline.
- He's a second half hitter. Morales has fared better in the 2nd half of his career, as seen below.
AVG OBP SLG tOPS+ 1st Half 0.278 0.331 0.463 96 2nd Half 0.283 0.334 0.517 108
WHY HE'S NOT
- He's primarily a designated hitter. While Morales can play a passable first base, he isn't exactly an ideal option to play there every day. That's going to limit his market considerably, especially to National League teams.
- He's a Scott Boras client. The odds of working out an extension with a new team that wants him long term don't seem great. While some of Boras' clients have signed extensions before free agency in recent years, he doesn't advise that they do so.
POSSIBLE INTERESTED TEAMS
- Baltimore Orioles. While Chris Davis is burning down the world at first base, production from the DH spot has been scattered. Nolan Reimold is struggling and Chris Dickerson is slowing down and likely to turn back into Chris Dickerson. The Orioles could also stand to rest Chris Davis at DH a few times as the summer wears on, and Morales allows that flexibility.
- New York Yankees. With Mark Teixeira out for the year, the team is desperate for offense. Lyle Overbay is currently the team's primary first baseman, while Travis Hafner has cooled off and is limited to DH. If there's a team willing to stick Morales at first base regularly, it's probably New York.
- Colorado Rockies. Despite a 41-42 record, the NL West is wide open, and Todd Helton is scuffling badly (.300 wOBA). Jordan Pacheco has filled in at first base, but he's been even worse. If the Rockies are still in contention near the end of July, they could look around for help, and Morales would be a considerable upgrade.
WHY A TRADE WILL HAPPEN
- Morales is in the last year of his contract, and re-signing him is an uncertainty, given the Scott Boras factor. Morales is likely to test the market, and the Mariners could be left without a good bat at 1B/DH next season if he walks.
- The Mariners will probably want to use the second half of the season as their final evaluation of Justin Smoak, and may also acquire another young 1B/DH type at the deadline, as it is a position of weakness in the Mariners organization. The team would presumably want to give that newly acquired player a shot to see if he's an option going forward, limiting the at-bats available for Morales.
WHY A TRADE WON'T HAPPEN
- The Mariners may be content to play out the season with Morales if they don't get an offer to their liking, and extend Morales a qualifying offer. This offseason's number should be close to last year's, which came in at $13.3 million. It wouldn't be a terrible investment if the Mariners signed Morales for another year at that salary, and if he declines, the Mariners will receive a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round in 2014's draft.
- The Mariners may want to keep Morales around for a while, and having Morales around Seattle for a full year would likely help those chances of re-signing.
More from Lookout Landing:
- Kendrys Morales and musings on being clutch
- The wait for 'that moment' continues
- Mariners trade Eric Thames to Orioles for Tyler Kelly
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