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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Kendrys Morales

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Kendrys, I’ve never met a Kendrys.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s just say mistakes were made.

The outcome, Kendrys Morales is a member of the Blue Jays. He’ll DH, and maybe play a bit of first base.

He’s had a 10-year major league career. There were some good years and some bad. His career batting line is .273/.331/.465 with 162 home runs.

Morales came up with the Angels, was up and down between the major league team and the minors for 3 years. 2009 was his first full season and it was a good one, .306/.355/.369 with 34 home runs, good for a 3.7 WAR

His 2010 season was going well, until May 29th, when he hit a walk-off grand slam. It should have been a good moment. Unfortunately, when he got to home plate, with all his teammates around him, he jumped and landed awkwardly, breaking his leg/ankle. The injury cost him the rest of the 2010 season and all of 2011.

That one moment changed his career. Not only did he lose a year and a half of playing time, but he also lost whatever running speed he had (which wasn’t all that much). It turned him from being a good defensive first baseman, to someone who could only handle DH.

After the 2012 season he was traded to the Mariners. He had an ok 2013 season, hitting .277/.336/.449 with 23 home runs.

A free agent, before the 2014 season, he was one of those victimized by the ‘qualifying offer’ and didn’t end up signing until June. Starting mid-season didn’t go well, on June 24th he was hitting .234/.259/.325 and was traded back to the Mariners. It didn’t help his bat, he finished the season hitting .218/.274/.338 with 8 home runs.

After the 2014 season, Kendrys was a free agent again and the Royals signed him to a 2-year, $17 million contract. He was pretty good, hitting .277/.344/.476 with 52 home runs, over the two seasons.

Now, through a series of mistakes, he’s a Blue Jay.

I guess, the question is:

Will he hit better in the more offensive friendly Rogers Centre than at the rather large Kauffman Stadium.

Career he’s hit .276/.330/.438 with 2 home runs in 28 games at Rogers, close to his career numbers in a small sample. It really doesn’t mean much. Last year his home/road splits were pretty equal, .794 OPS at home and .795 OPS on the road. So, it doesn’t look like Kaufman hurt him too much.

You would think that he should get a few more home runs in Toronto.

Was it a terrible signing?

Dave Cameron lists it as the second worst transaction of the offseason.

But while I don’t think we can judge the Blue Jays’ signing solely by the fact that the market for bat-only players immediately crashed after that move, I do think it’s fair to wonder why they were so anxious to lock up a mediocre player.

That is a fair question. There were a number of lefty bats out there, why were the Jays in such a rush to sign Morales? I’m guessing they didn’t think of him as mediocre and that they think he’ll be better suited to Rogers Centre.

My real complaint is the 3 years. Why would you be giving a 34 year old, slow, DH only, a three year contract. $11 million a year isn’t all that much, but why 3 years?

Shapiro and Atkins didn’t get great reviews for the Happ and Estrada signings, people wanted Price. This year we wanted Encarnacion, we got Morales and Pearce. Maybe it will work out again.

The good news? He’s having a great spring. 14 at bats, 7 hits, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. I enjoyed watching him hit one down the left field line, against the shift, for an easy double. He’s been making good contact. And he hasn’t looked as slow as I expected.

I’m going to hope for a good year this year, and worry about the next two seasons later.