This year, American League designated hitters have posted a combined 99 wRC+. On the team level, the Tigers are first, at 164. Right in the middle are the Twins, at 115. At second-worst, we find the Royals, at 80. Then, buried deep, there are the Mariners, at 62. Depending on your metric of choice, it’s quite possibly the worst team DH season ever, and though responsibility is split, the biggest offenders have been Corey Hart and Kendrys Morales. Hart’s had some injury issues after missing all of 2013 due to bigger injury issues. Morales missed time because of himself.
Morales had to wait to sign as a free agent until after the draft, after he and his agent misread the market. Morales received a prorated $12 million, which guaranteed him a significant amount of money, and it was assumed Morales wouldn’t need much time to shake off the rust that had accumulated during the delay. As a Twin, Morales posted a miserable 59 wRC+, but the Mariners added him as an upgrade anyway, figuring that he’d just had his spring training in Minnesota. As a Mariner, he’s posted an only slightly less miserable 77 wRC+, and he’s at 73 in September. Morales is doing the opposite of finishing strong, and he’s challenging to post the lowest WAR in the league.
So, last offseason, coming off a productive year, Morales couldn’t find himself a home as a glove-less DH. At that point, though, he was at least a designated hitter who could hit some. Now he’ll be a free agent again, and he’s a year older, and he didn’t learn how to play defense in the meantime, and his offense has been dreadful. 2014 for Morales has been a complete disaster, and at this point it’s hard to envision him signing for guaranteed money. He’ll receive plenty of interest, and come February he’ll be in somebody’s camp, but Morales isn’t worth signing as a bench guy because he has no defensive flexibility. And he’s not worth signing as a regular DH because he hasn’t been the “hitter” part of the title for a year. He has to prove himself again, and I have to think the best he’ll find is a minor-league contract with a spring invitation.
Adam Dunn kept playing after bottoming out in 2011, but he’d been signed to a huge contract. Aubrey Huff kept playing after 2009, but he was somewhat defensively versatile. Paul Konerko returned to the White Sox this year as a part-time player, but that’s a special circumstance. Jose Vidro was finished after 2008, when he was newly 34. Morales isn’t 32 until next June, but he’s running a lower ISO than Matt Dominguez, and he’s lousy on the bases, and he’s a double-play machine. The one thing he’s supposed to be able to do, he hasn’t done, and that’s bad news for a one-dimensional player.
Odds are Morales will play in the bigs in 2015. Guys with a track record of hitting will receive multiple opportunities, and so Morales isn’t out of chances. But he might never again see huge money, and this coming year he shouldn’t even see guaranteed money. Maybe because of that, Morales will make for someone’s offseason upside play. Maybe he’ll turn out to be a bargain. But, sitting out for so long? Kendrys Morales shouldn’t have sat out for so long. It’s hard to say how much that cost him, but it’s not hard to say it cost him a lot. It probably hurt his performance, and it definitely hurt his wallet.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.
Good thing he got that guarantee that he would not get that $14 M qualifying offer.
He played himself out of having that as an option anyways even if it was there. No team would extend a player with his results a QO.