The Mariners did as the Mariners do. After weeks and weeks of speculating, the first deadline trade the Mariners pulled off was to acquire 1B/DH Kendrys Morales, once again, in exchange for RHP Stephen Pryor. It was a move that we should have seen all along, but it was such an obvious Mariners-esque move that no one even speculated that it would happen. This organization is tight-lipped, I tell you!
This was a weird trade because first and foremost, we had Morales last season. Yeah, obviously. Not only that, but Morales turned down a 3-year, $30M offer from us, and then went on to turn down our following 1-year, $14.1M qualifying offer shortly thereafter. When the draft rolled around and losing a draft pick was no longer in play, he still went with the Twins rather than the Mariners and boned us out of a pick. In two years, Seattle has traded Jason Vargas and now Stephen Pryor for Morales. Kendrys obviously did not want to be here, but now here he is against his will. Sorry Kendrys. You’re stuck with us for eternity.
Analyzing this trade is dependent on what other things Jack Z wants to do via trade in this next week before the non-waiver deadline. Assumably, Jack Z didn’t handcuff us financially. For as dumb as we sometimes think Zduriencik is, he’s likely not done making moves. Especially with his job on the line. Morales received $7.5M for the remainder of the year from the Twins, so the Mariners will owe him $4.7M for the remaining 63 games of the season. The Twins essentially got 39 games out of Morales along with Stephen Pryor for approximately $3M. So really it’s a win-win for both sides.
Pryor was not going to have a role with the Mariners (or possibly ever) so the few risks in the deal are that Morales continues to struggle, and also exhausting precious funds. Last year, Stephen Pryor tore his latissimus dorsi clean off his bone. After an MRI, it was revealed that his lat had healed by attaching to his triceps rather than his bone. He underwent the third ever surgery of its kind. Since returning, Pryor’s once electric fastball averaged a velocity of 91.7 MPH after averaging 95.8 MPH in 2013 and 96.3 MPH in 2012. Pryor’s future is looking rather bleak due to the fact that his velocity has dipped so far. He has thrown his four-seam fastball and cutter 94.5% of the time over his career. I applaud Jack Zduriencik in this aspect of the trade because of the uncertainty of Pryor returning to form and also due to the volatility of relievers. You don’t have to look back very far to know the unpredictability of relievers (Tom Wilhelmsen, anyone?).
In Kendrys Morales, Seattle is getting a player that for whatever reason they cannot seem to get enough of. They value his locker room presence (ugh) and bat in the lineup, which should make Robinson Cano very happy, since he said they needed a right-handed bat in March. Well Robbie, we got you one. In fact, we got you the exact bat you asked for! According to Scott Weber at Lookout Landing, Morales projects to be worth 0.5 WAR over the rest of this year. Argue locker room presence or lineup protection all you want but at the end of the day this is a minor, low impact move. If Morales can return to his 2013 form (.277/.336/.449), he will be provide some pop and stability that our designated hitters have yet to present consistently.
Although he’s been pretty awful up this point, prior to his game yesterday Morales owned a 12 game hitting streak. He only had multiple hits in three of those games, but he’s starting to show some signs of turning it around. After missing spring training and two and a half months of regular season play, it’s more than understandable that Morales has to shake off some rust. He hasn’t seen live pitching!
Currently, the Mariners have three qualified hitters with a wRC+ over 100, also known as average. Similarly, the Mariners have the same exact three hitters over a .320 wOBA, which is the rule of thumb for average as well. Morales is going to assist in attempting to fix that, and hopefully we’ll acquire a center fielder and/or corner outfield bat coming into town soon to reinforce Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Michael Saunders (psssst… our only competent hitters).
I don’t want to beat on a dead horse. The Mariners need some more hitters, and they’ve added one piece to the puzzle for very cheap. Even after we acquire other hitters, this offense is going to need Dustin Ackley, Brad Miller (or Chris Taylor), Logan Morrison, and Mike Zunino to act older than their ages and not be dead weights in the lineup. Oh, and Corey Hart should probably act younger than his age. As “meh” as you may think this trade is, we are taking a flyer on someone who has proven to be able to hit for a full season in Safeco Field. There aren’t many hitters you can say that about. Hats off to Jack Z, once again.
And you know what they say…