Buster Olney suggests (Insider-only) that the Pirates "might theoretically be a fit" for Kendrys Morales:
Pittsburgh might theoretically be a fit for Kendrys Morales on a very team-friendly contract, but the Pirates would have to give up their first-round draft pick, and the draft money attached to it. You might as well ask them to surrender some oxygen.
There are many things about the free-agent market that make no sense to me. Chief among them is the valuation of players like Morales, who are routinely among the most overrated players in baseball. Anyone who understands the value of defense and positional adjustments can see pretty easily that players like Morales and Nelson Cruz aren't actually all that good, and yet here we have Morales turning down $14.1 million and Cruz running around asking for $75 million. Maybe someone will give these guys what they want. But I sincerely hope it won't be my team.
The Mariners extended Morales a qualifying offer. I suppose I do understand that -- if one-dimensional sluggers who contribute nothing defensively are overrated, the Mariners top the list of teams doing the overrating. But unless you feel Morales is capable of playing first base at a reasonable level, and doing it for most of the season, he isn't worth the $14.1 million qualifying offer price.
In this market, one win above replacement is worth about $7 million. (The $5 million per WAR rule of thumb is outdated.) That means a player needs to produce about 2 WAR per season to be worth a qualifying offer. Morales has only produced 2 WAR once in his entire career, and that was in 2009. Since then he's had a significant injury that has changed him as a player, and in the last two seasons he's produced 1.7 WAR and 1.2 WAR. (I'm using Fangraphs WAR here, as I always do.) Steamer projects he'll be worth 1.6 WAR next season; Oliver projects 1.5 WAR. In fact, Fangraphs suggests Morales has been worth $13.6 million in the past two seasons combined.
So if I'm Kendrys Morales' agent and the Mariners extend a qualifying offer, I pump my fist and tell Morales to accept it. It's possible I'm misjudging the market -- it wouldn't be the first time. But judging from the seemingly complete disinterest in Morales on the market so far, maybe not.
Now, Morales' agent is Scott Boras, who would rather push a boulder up a hill than accept a qualifying offer. So I understand why Morales didn't accept it. But now he's in a tough situation, because he's going to be looking for a better deal than one year and $14.1 million, and there's no reason for anyone to give it to him, because in addition to Morales not being worth $14.1 million in the first place, there's now draft-pick compensation attached. And again, unless Morales can be an everyday first baseman -- and I've seen no evidence that anyone around baseball besides Morales himself thinks he can be -- signing him makes no sense whatsoever, to anyone.
This offseason, I figured he'd end up back with the Mariners, who collect DHs like Yasiel Puig collects speeding tickets, and who wouldn't have to give up a draft pick for him. Now that's in question, with the additions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison. So now Morales is in no-man's land. Boras is a resourceful guy, and it wouldn't surprise me if he found a team for Morales, but it also wouldn't surprise me if no one signed him until after the draft.
-P- In case you didn't see it, I did a big interview with former big-league lefty C.J. Nitkowski over at MLB Trade Rumors. He talks about being a minor-league veteran and playing in Japan and Korea. It's really interesting stuff, if I do say so myself.