As the draft wraps up today, Kendrys Morales’ wait in comp pick purgatory is finally over. The slugging DH/1B has agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins for a prorated $12 million.
At this point in the season, a prorated $12 million deal would pay Morales about $7.6 million for the rest of the year.
On the surface, this seems like a questionable deal — at best — for both sides. The Twins entered Saturday in last place in the AL Central at 28-31, albeit just five games behind division-leading Detroit. They’ve moved Joe Mauer to first base full-time, so it doesn’t seem likely Morales will be using his glove much in Minneapolis. The Twins’ DH situation was already crowded, though, between Mauer’s off days and finding at-bats for catching prospect Josmil Pinto. It’s safe to assume the Twins aren’t paying nearly $8 million for a four-month rental to sit on the bench, so it looks like Pinto’s playing time is about to take a hit unless something happens to Kurt Suzuki.
From Morales’ perspective, he didn’t get the multi-year deal he was looking for and he got less money than the rumored $30 million deal he turned down from Seattle. He isn’t joining a clear-cut contender and he’s walking into a crowded DH situation where he could easily lose playing time if he doesn’t produce right away. About the only benefit is that he can’t go through this ordeal again next year, but he would have had that perk regardless of where he signed.
Earlier this week, it was the Yankees and Brewers linked to Morales most often. But there was also that “mystery team,” which was apparently Minnesota. When the Yankees said they wanted more time to figure out what was going on with Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira before committing, Morales and Scott Boras moved on. And despite Milwaukee’s glaring need at first base, the fact that they were a National League team and cut a Morales-type player in Juan Francisco for his defensive deficiencies this spring probably should have disqualified them from serious consideration, too.
The addition of Morales at least makes the Twins’ lineup more interesting, and they could always use more power — Brian Dozier currently leads the team in home runs, with lone left-handed power threat Oswaldo Arcia in second place. The problem is that it’s hard to see the Twins truly competing in the Central without improving a pitching staff that’s been dreadful up to this point. Minnesota pitchers came into Saturday carrying a combined 4.47 ERA — worst in the American League, and third-worst in the majors, ahead of only Arizona and Colorado.
Best-case scenario for both sides? Morales hits well enough to make the Twins a fringe contender this year, only for him to leave for a multi-year deal in free agency this winter now that the draft pick albatross is gone.