Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has an update on free agent first baseman Kendrys Morales, noting that there is mutual interest between Morales and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cafardo says that the Pirates would love to have Morales on the right contract, but that they are also exploring trade options. He lists Ike Davis, Mitch Moreland, Adam Lind, Justin Smoak, Daniel Nava, and Mike Carp as the candidates.
Morales is a better name than a first base option at this point. In the last two years he has averaged about a 1.5 WAR. His 1.2 WAR in a full season in 2013 was only slightly better than the 1.1 WAR that Jose Tabata put up in 341 plate appearances last year. Morales is more of a designated hitter, getting about 500 innings total at first base the last two years. He also turned down a qualifying offer, so he would cost a draft pick, on top of the salary he would be demanding.
It’s safe to assume that Morales would have to lower his demands at this point in the game. He remains unsigned, and there aren’t many teams who need his services. Meanwhile, there are a lot of available first base options that could be cheaper alternatives. None of the available first basemen really look like good options, so it’s not like a team looking for a first baseman would want to pay to get the best available guy.
If Morales saw a drastic decrease in price, then he might be worth signing. The Pirates would probably have to give up the equivalent of a late first round pick to get any of the other players mentioned above. All of those players come at a lower salary through the arbitration process. For Morales to be an equivalent, he would have to take a massive pay cut, likely a third of what the qualifying offer would have been. Otherwise it would make more sense to turn to someone like Davis, Moreland, or Justin Smoak if the Mariners add Nelson Cruz.