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Kendrys Morales to Blue Jays: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistNovember 11, 2016

Sep 5, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales (25) rounds third base after hitting a three run home run during the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays appear to have found their answer at designated hitter, as on Friday, they announced they have signed Kendrys Morales to a contract.

Christopher Meola first reported the three-year deal on Nov. 11. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com confirmed the agreement, adding that it will pay Morales $33 million total.

The Blue Jays had two big decisions facing them this offseason. Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista are both free agents and likely seeking large contracts. 

Shi Davidi of SportsNet.ca noted Morales' addition does seem to signal the end of Encarnacion's time in Toronto:

Shi Davidi @ShiDavidi

Given term for Morales, hard to see EE fitting #BlueJays puzzle unless as everyday 1B. Encarnacion played 75G/636.1 innings at 1B this yr

Rosenthal pointed out the Blue Jays won't lose a draft pick for signing Morales because the Kansas City Royals didn't make him a qualifying offer. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, could end up with two additional picks because they did give Encarnacion and Bautista the qualifying offer. 

Per Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Blue Jays' contract obligations for next season include nine players who will make a total of $107.2 million. That doesn't factor in the money they will have to pay arbitration-eligible players, so the payroll was going to be high whether or not Encarnacion and Bautista returned. 

As a result, the Blue Jays were likely seeking alternative options for those two players this offseason. Morales doesn't have the same star power as Encarnacion or Bautista, but he's not a bad fit for Toronto's lineup. 

Last season with the Royals, Morales hit .263/.327/.468 with 30 home runs in 154 games. By comparison, Bautista hit .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs in 116 games. 

The Blue Jays still have the talent to compete for a playoff spot in the American League East. Their starting rotation is deep with Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada making a formidable top four. 

While the offense may take a small step back if Encarnacion and/or Bautista don't return, Morales gives them a big bat to plug in at DH and someone who can slot into the No. 4 spot behind 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson. 

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