For the first time in a handful of years the Seattle Mariners are “buyers” rather than “sellers” at the trade deadline. Thanks to their league-leading 3.11 ERA, the Mariners are firmly entrenched in the AL Wild Card race.
Not surprisingly, given their roster, the Mariners continue to be one of the worst offensive teams in baseball. Given their, at times, lifeless offense it has been expected that the Mariners would look to acquire another bat before the trade deadline. In an smart move Thursday, the Mariners traded relief pitcher Stephen Pryor to the Minnesota Twins for designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
The trade marks the return of Morales to Seattle, who last season lea the Mariners with a .277 batting average, 167 hits, 34 doubles and 80 RBIs.
Morales started this season on the couch after passing on a new contract by the Mariners at the end of last season. Signing with the Twins in early June, Morales went straight from the couch to Target field with no time spent in the minors.
This season in 39 games with the Twins, Morales is batting .234 with just 1 HR and 18 RBIs.
While Morales, 31, will bring experience and poise at the plate, two key elements necessary for competing in any postseason race, he can hardly be expected or counted on as being the Mariners’ difference maker over the final 62 games of the season.
His arrival creates a logjam at first base and at DH, which can be played by Corey Hart, Justin Smoak, Logan Morrison or Morales. Smoak will likely be the odd man out. The 27-year-old has spent time in the minors this season, trying to improve upon his .208 batting average. Overall, Smoak has never lived up to his blue chip prospect status and the return of Morales could be the beginning of the end of Smoak’s tenure in Seattle. Either Hart or Morrison can move out into right field allowing Morales to be the everyday DH.
There is always a certain comfort level for any franchise when bringing in former players. The same applies here. Morales will certainly not upset the delicate clubhouse balance. He should bring quality at-bats and the invaluable veteran experience of several postseason races, while with the Los Angles Angles.
Hopefully this will not be the Mariners’ only transaction before the trade deadline. Still needing another outfield bat, the Mariners would be wise to pursue veteran Philadelphia Phillies outfielder, Marlon Byrd. Byrd’s 19 HRs would be a welcome addition to a Mariners outfield who have combined for just 19 long balls this season.
Morales’ addition signals the Mariners’ front office commitment to winning this season and only time will tell if Morales is worth their bet.