We don’t have to go over the circumstances of how Kendrys Morales came to be with the Blue Jays. He’s in the last year of a 3-year, $33 million contract.
In the first two years of the contract Kendrys has hit .249/.318/.442 with 49 home runs and 142 RBI (and two stolen bases), good for a 0.6 bWAR.
Last spring Kendrys came to camp down a few pounds and wearing glasses, in the hope to have a better season than in 2017. The glasses didn’t last long. A terrible April convinced him to ditch the glasses. He had a terrific July, hitting .338/.459/.574.
Actually he was quite good from May 1 to August 31, hitting .273/.349/.508 with 20 home runs in 94 games (he didn’t play a lot in September, and hit much like he did in April). And, of course, he had the streak of seven straight games with a homer.
There has been a bit of a full court press by the Blue Jays press, telling us he is a great leader within the clubhouse, especially with the Spanish speaking players. Among others Rosie DiManno wrote about it here and Rob Langley tells us how he is a father figure for Vlad Guerrero Jr. From Rob’s story:
“I’m very lucky to have Morales here,” Montoyo said. “He helps me out. He’s in charge of that clubhouse. He’s one of the leaders and again I don’t take that for granted.
“He does a great job with everyone. You usually see him around the Latin players but he talks to everybody. He’s got the respect of every person here including the coaches.
My problem is that I don’t know how to quantify leadership. If he is a negative WAR on the field, is he still worth having because of his leadership? Is leadership worth 1 WAR a season? 2? How much extra would you pay a player if he is a good leader? Couldn’t a coach or a manager take that leadership role and save the roster spot for someone who can help on the field?
I like that he’s a good guy and a leader, I just don’t know how to value it, so I generally discount it. I find we are sold packages of leadership and character but, most of the time, when we open it up, it turns out to be snake oil. But, perhaps this time there is leadership and character in the package. I still don’t know what it is worth. I’m guessing less than $13 million and a 25-man roster spot.
Personally, I would love the team to open up the DH spot to rest the regulars on occasion. And, of course, I would much rather have Dalton Pompey on the active roster than Kendrys. I think that, in the days of carrying eight relievers, using a roster spot for a guy who can only DH is less than optimal.
We were sold on the idea the Tulo was a leader, but, now he’s gone, we hear whispers that he wasn’t such a great teammate.
The team released Tulo, and traded Russell Martin (sending along a lot of cash) to the Dodgers, but Kendrys is still here. I do wonder if there is a possibility of a trade before the end of camp. With how hard they are hitting the ‘leadership’ thing, I’m guessing there is almost no chance. Then....Frank Thomas was released in April, after a slow start to his season.
Anyway, PECOTA predicts he’ll hit .257/.325/.440 with 21 home runs in 554 PA and a 1.2 WAR, which is a little bit better than he’s hit over the past couple of years. I would take the under for PA and for that matter, WAR.
When they signed him I said:
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?
Well, we are going into the third year of the contract and he’ll turn 36 in June. I don’t know if really really slow players age well or not. I would think that it isn’t like he’s going to be much slower, but at some point his bat will slow. I figured he would spent the off season wearing his glasses so that he could come to camp used to them. He didn’t. If he hits like he did from May 1 to August 31, we’ll be happy. If he hits like he did last April, we won’t.
So far this spring, he has had 4 hits in 18 at bats for a .222/.263/.278 line but I don’t want read anything into 18 at bats.
If the over/under on Kendrys at bats is 400 I’d take the
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