Free agent-to-be Kendrys Morales might not be one and done in Seattle. MLB.com’s Greg Johns passed along word that GM Jack Zduriencik said he intends to make the designated hitter a qualifying offer after the World Series.
That offer would give Morales a one-year contract in the $13.5 million-$14 million range should he choose to accept it. Alternatively, he could still take his chances in free agency. However, since the team that signs him would have to forfeit a draft pick, his value would diminish.
The question here is where Jack Z actually thinks Morales is worth that kind of coin or if he’s simply gambling on the draft pick. Morales is represented by Scott Boras, and those two might figure they can get the kind of multiyear deal that would make the sure money worth passing up.
It will be a tough sell. Morales is a steady hitter; in 2012, he hit .273/.320/.467 with 22 homers for the Angels. In 2013, he hit .277/.336/.449 with 23 homers for the Mariners. Still, he’s going to enter 2014 as a 31-year-old five years removed from his only big season in the majors (.924 OPS, 34 HR with the Angels in 2009). He can play some first base, but he has no real defensive value., and he’s far from an asset on the basepaths.
His comparables list at Baseball-reference may not mean much, but it should give his suitors pause. Guys like Reggie Jefferson, Erubiel Durazo, Mike Jacobs and Juan Rivera were essentially done at 31, and no one on his list remained a consistent producer.
Zduriencik will come out a winner here if he makes the offer and Morales leaves anyway, netting the Mariners a draft pick. The alternative is spending close to $14 million on an unexceptional DH when he could probably resign Raul Ibanez to fill the role for 25 percent of that. Given the way that most teams are addressing the DH spot by mixing-and-matching and using cheaper veterans these days, it seems like a bad risk.
Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.
While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.
Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.
Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”
Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.
If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.