Even if the Seattle Mariners want Kendrys Morales to come back next season, it doesn't sound like he's going to stick around. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported on Tuesday that the slugger would likely turn down the one-year, $13.8 million qualifying offer that the Mariners are prepared to make, in order to seek a lengthier deal as a free agent.
The report comes a week after Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told 710 ESPN radio in Seattle that the team would definitely be offering Morales a one-year qualifying offer, per Greg Johns of MLB.com:
Jack Z says on @710ESPNSeattle that he'll definitely make qualifying offer to DH Kendrys Morales this offseason.— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) October 1, 2013
This move appears to be a head-scratcher on the parts of both the Mariners and Morales.
First of all, it seems hard to justify paying the 30-year-old Morales $13.8 million based off his career thus far. Everything changed for Morales on this grand slam, walk-off celebration in 2010, when he jumped on home plate and broke his leg:
In the season-plus before that injury, Morales possessed one of the most potent bats in baseball, batting .302, smashing 45 home runs and driving in 147 in 203 games. But in the two seasons since he returned from his injury, he's averaged 22 homers and 76 RBI with a .275 average. Those are good numbers, but not nearly good enough to warrant a $14 million payday.
It's interesting to hear Morales would turn down so much money when he figures to make less as a free agent, but Seattle has lost at least 90 games in three of the last four seasons, so perhaps he's looking for a change of scenery.
Some pundits like ESPN's Buster Olney think Morales would be wise to accept the team's one-year offer:
If Zduriencik follows through & gives a $14m qualifying offer to Kendrys Morales, it'll crush Morales's free agency, because of draft comp.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 2, 2013
@DanHirsch He should accept, if offered. Because if he doesn't accept, he'll be sitting and waiting for a long, long time.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 2, 2013
Teams are about to enter the second offseason since the qualifying offer was introduced into the MLB collective bargaining agreement, and it can be thought of as MLB's answer to the NFL's franchise tag. MLB Trade Rumors has a breakdown of the specifics of the offer, which is based on the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players in baseball.
By making Morales an offer, the Mariners would either sign Morales or receive a first-round compensatory draft pick in 2014 if they lost him to another team. Morales' new team would then have to give up their first round pick in 2014, changing the dynamics of Morales' free agency and making him less attractive on the open market.