The best thing you can say about Kendrys Morales is that he's not a bad baseball player. I've seen others say more, and it's hilarious that he smoked a pig that one time before a game, but for all relevant purposes—that's as good as it gets when accurately describing Morales, the baseball player.
Though everyone will blame this current qualifying offer system, one requiring that teams give up a draft pick to sign designated free agents, for why he's not currently signed to a club and locked into someone's Opening Day lineup—it's his skill-set that has him in the place he's in.
And with him in that place, it doesn't make any sense for him to sign with a club in the immediate future—not before Opening Day. I've seen people on Twitter and even here on LL clamoring for the Mariners to add Morales and add him now, but it's just not going to happen before then.
Why? Well, for an organization to stick a player with a qualifying offer, that player must spend the entire year with that club. After what's likely been an arduous process, I doubt Morales nor his agent Scott Boras want to go through it all again. So he can wait until the day after Opening Day—hell, maybe even 11:00pm Opening Day itself—sign his deal, and not have to worry about being restricted when he likely hits the market again in November.
And, of course, Morales could wait all the way until the draft in June so that a draft pick is no longer attached to his eventual signing. But if a deal is going to happen between Morales and the Mariners, it will happen after Opening Day and before the draft because they don't technically lose a pick by signing him—only the one they would've gotten had he signed elsewhere before June. If he makes it to June, they lose it anyway.
When Kendrys Morales does eventually sign someplace for considerably less than what Boras hoped for when he turned down the Mariners' qualifying offer, Boras will certainly continue to voice his critique of the current system, one he's already said put his clients "in a jail."
Hey, Scott—an idea: adapt.
Boras' job is to best serve his clients, and the dude needs to adjust. Though there have been times when this isn't true, Boras has long carried the reputation of a guy who loves to take his clients to free agency so he can let the market push their valuate to its maximum. And it's time he starts to realize that, with these qualifying offer guys, that isn't the best route—not with the good-not-great brand of player he's currently left out in the wind.
Look what Ervin Santana thought of his agent's work. After what undoubtedly was a very stressful winter, he wound up with the exact same deal the Royals offered him back in November. Stephen Drew reportedly wishes he took the Red Sox' qualifying offer. And, of course, Nelson Cruz got $6 million less over one year than he would've had he taken his original offer from Texas.
You know how you wane teams off of handing out these qualifying offers and preventing your guy from hitting free agency? You start taking some. Until then, teams are going to be more and more aggressive with the types of players they hand qualifying offers to. The worse a player is, the less likely it is that a team is going to give up a draft pick to get him. And we've already reached the point where the players hti with these tags aren't good enough to warrant a draft pick.
There's only one way for agents like Boras to balance this thing out: start taking that qualifying offer when your player isn't worth the money.
There's a reason you never see advanced statistics referenced when national pundits talk about Kendrys Morales. It's always "Morales had a good year last year, managing 23 home runs in the pitcher-friendly Safeco Field," as if we don't have a way to quantify that. Offensively, Morales was the league's 58th best offensive player last year (by wRC+). As an overall player, by fWAR, he was all the way down at #115.
At a measly 1.2 fWAR, that's worse than Nelson Cruz, and worth about what Cruz got for this year—$8 million.
So, again, if you want to stop teams from handing out these deals, start taking the money when your client doesn't deserve it. Or, even better yet, start maximizing their earnings within the confines of the existing system.
A week ago, Shannon Drayer reported that Kendrys Morales has turned down multiple offers from the Mariners, with one being a multi-year deal. When I asked Shannon if one might've come during the season, she didn't rule it out. And, really, that wouldn't be that surprising. In the middle of this 2013, there was talk that a three-year deal for Morales wouldn't be all that unreasonable. You think Boras would turn that down now? I doubt it.
So while many will cry that changes to be made, and maybe they do in time, I think it's worth letting this play out at least another couple years. So far, this system hasn't been tested—there's been no variance. Since new rules went into effect before last off-season, 22 players have been given qualifying offers. And all 22 of them have turned them down.
Instead of trying to adjust only a couple off-seasons into the existing framework. Let's give all parties involved a chance to learn something. And if they don't, that's on them.