Pirates and Kendrys Morales Share Mutual Interest

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.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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I LOVE THIS IDEA!!!! For June…

If he stays a free agent into the season, that gives the Bucs a chance to find out what they have in Lambo/McGuiness, and then if necessary they can sign Morales mid-season after the draft pick rolls off. Otherwise, who is going to pick him up before then?

I bet the contract would be worth almost the same for half the season and no draft pick, as a contract for the whole season would cost right now. Better for Morales, better for the Bucs.

Cato the Elder

I have to say that I think this is a terrible idea, but I will admit that I hadn’t really considered: “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.” That strikes me as true, considering the asking prices that we heard for Davis and Lind. Now, clearly Kingham and Walker weren’t realisitic prices, but if that was the starting point you could imagine a negotiated value of something like the 25th pick being the landing spot. But that decrease in price would have to be “Drastic” with a capital “D.” Even then I still don’t like it, but I thought it was a good point being made.


Mutual interest, eh? The Bucs? Probably not any serious interest. Kendrys? He should have interest in anybody that would waste 30 seconds to call him.


Frankly, I think Ike Davis is a much better option, given the fact that you’d have to cough up the draft pick for Morales, the concern about his ability to hold up over a full season, not to mention that I think the Mets are so focused on dumping Davis–really, there’s no feasible way they can play Davis and Lucas Duda together–that I think he can eventually be had for a set-up guy and maybe a semi-interesting low-A prospect. That said, right now you’ve got Sanchez, who isn’t a championship-caliber everyday option, and Lambo, who isn’t exactly a proven commodity. That platoon could certainly work, but right now Plan B is Chris McGuiness, and for a team with designs on playing deep into October, that’s just not good enough. If the medicals check out, and you could get Morales for, say, one year at $8-9 mil with perhaps a mutual option, I’d grit my teeth and say “OK, go ahead.”


I think there is a reason the Mets are so willing to dump Davis. He was Terrible last year. And this lineup might not survive another free swinging K machine like him.


Well we know for a fact that Ike Davis is a fantastic fly swatter at the plate. Save the money and draft pick and give Lambo a chance to prove he doesn’t produce as much wind as Davis at the plate.

Cato the Elder

I think the whole point is that “a set-up guy and maybe a semi-interesting low-A prospect” (if that is what it would take) might rightly be considered similar in value to the 25th pick, so if Morales signed for similar terms as Ike Davis ($3.5 mil this year; arb eligible next year; free agent after that) then it could be construed as reasonable to consider.

Maybe one might think the 25th pick is more valuable than a set-up guy and maybe a semi-interesting low-A prospect. They might be right (it’d be more risky) but it could be argued on the other side that Ike Davis is more risky than Morales. I don’t really know what I think/want any more. I don’t love any of the options, so personally I’d be inclined to give Lambo his shot and if it doesn’t work out risk being taken to task when trading for a 1B in season.

Bruce Humbert

I just wish this crap would go away – this would make zero sense. Let’s go to ST with confidence in Lambo – give him 80 at bats and see how he does. If he can’t win the job there will be options – always are. Boras screwed his client on this one – no way Morales gets a deal for anything close to the QO,


I don’t know if it makes 0 sense. The Pirates have a large hole at first, and Morales is one of the better 1B left out there.

Kenny Moore

He would be a grest fit at 1B. Sure he is not a gold glover, his defense at first is not as bad as everyone is saying. He turned down 14 million. There is a zero chance he signs with the Pirates. He is a Boras client for starters.


To both esquire and Kenny, the question isn’t can he play first base. He could stand there and field some balls and everything, the bigger question is can his body support him over the course of a 162 game season. A lot of signs point to no. If NH is giving up a draft pick plus shelling out large chunks of money, he isn’t going to do it for a guy who can only play the position 2-3 days per week or serve as a platoon partner. I’m praying they pass on him.


I see your point. But that is why I mentioned 9 million a year for a middle of the line up bat. Well worth the pricing point even if he is platooned.

Personally, I’d rather go with Lambo and hope somehow Morales is around after June.


We should sign him if:

1) We can get him around 9 mil/year.
2) We platoon him with Gabby and bring Gabby in as a defensive replacement.
3) They can’t secure a better option via trade.
The Pirates have plenty of room to add a hitter with a track record of proven success.


Why is this Boston Globe guy always worried about the Pirates and why does he want them to make bad deals….


This is a ploy by Boras to secure a slightly better deal for his client when he signs w/an AL team to be their DH.

Lambo/Sanchez platoon at 1B is plan A. If it looks like Lambo isn’t going to cut it by March 20th or so, Pirates will look to trade for an Ike Davis or Mitch Moreland type and send Lambo down to Indy to start season.

NH has rebuilt this franchise via the draft and International FA signings primarily. No way he deviates from this plan to sign an over-the-hill DH at the expense of a #1 pick.

Kenny Moore

NH pretty much gave up a first rd pick for Sanchez. Morales is a better player but the Pirates will never spend the money to bring him in.


Might be a better hitter than Gaby and that is it.

Nathan Swartz

That was a supplemental pick, not their only first rounder. If it was a later pick, in say the 40s-50s, and we also had an earlier pick that we could keep, then I’d consider it…maybe.

Cato the Elder

Right, and Gaby Sanchez had years of team control and is signed on for $2.3 million to avoid arbitration. So maybe if Morales signed for < $3 million then it should be considered…maybe…but bear in mind he just turned down $14 million. Even a $3 mil I still wouldn't like it.

The Masked robshelb


Does anyone else here remember (or know of) the McGuire Sisters and their (arguably) most famous song, “Sugartime” ??

The actual original lyrics went something like this —

Lambo in the morning
Lambo in the evening
Lambo at suppertime
Be our super slugger
And love us all the time.

Why would we ever want a 1B-man named Kendrys when we already have a first base hammer by the name of LAM-BO. (Yikes !!!) All he needs is a moderately successful Spring Training and he’ll start the season playing almost every game and batting 5th.

Get the kayaks ready !!!


I doubt it. You are talking about a player that needed 5 years to get through AA. Its very likely that his HR total never comes close to his 2013 totals ever again


Yes, please. Get it done NH.


Yep, the Pirates and Kendrys Morales share interests. The Pirates could use a cost-effective platoon partner for Gaby at 1b, Kendrys wants a gig. That doesn’t mean that the Pirates should sign him, they should explore other alternatives first. There’s a substantial question as to whether Kendrys is worth a low 1st round pick. Didn’t the Angels get Trout pretty far down in the first round – 25th or something? I have no idea what quality of this year’s potential 1st rounders is but I would bet that there’s at least a chance they’d draft someone who has a chance to be a contributor to a contending team. Sounds like Kendrys only has the bat to offer, and that he’s a liability both in the field and on the bases. Would explore the options of seeking a trade with a team who has a halfway decent close to major league ready prospect blocked by a team that has a major contract commitment at 1b like Atlanta, Texas, etc. As for Kendrys, “Just say no!” He is a DH at best, not a good fit for a NL team.

Nathan Swartz

Agreed. What about all the players the Bucs have snagged with lower picks?! Glasnow, Taylor, Bell, Kingham, etc. I wouldn’t trade ANY of them for KM. Keep the pick. Make a run at Smoak or Terdoslavich.

I still can’t figure out why so FEW are even giving Lambo a fair shot. Really?! We have a prospect that pounded over 30 hrs last year in AA/AAA ball, and people want to even debate about KM?

That’s a possible combined 50 hrs from your corner IFs, without costing a pick, a player, or another dime. Lambos upside is far more interesting than anything out there at 1st. If Lambo crushes? Great, hole filled (hope people are patient w/ him). If not, then go shopping.


No, no, and No!!!!

If the Pirates have to surrender a first round pick for this DH, it will be a terrible move. In addition to the lost draft pick, they would have to fork out money for this guy that would be better spent elsewhere. He is really a DH – a liability even at first base. And, he clogs up the bases as a runner.

He is a good hitter, but a poor fit for the NL and not good enough to be worth a first round pick.

I’d rather see Sanchez/Lambo platoon and see what that produces.


I posted this on BD, but it needs to be posted here,

There are at least 5 guys with ML experience or with solid high minors credentials who could be had for expendable prospects, or guys like Brian Morris, Vin Mazzaro, or Gomar.

Jordan Lennerton – blocked in the Tigers’ system behind Miggy
Max Muncy – lacks HR power (see Matt Curry below)
Brett Wallace – DFA’ed by the Astros
Joey Terdoslavich – stuck behind a guy with a shiny new contract in Atlanta.
Marc Krauss – behind Jonathan Singleton in Houston.

Also, I think Lambo, McGuinness, and Matt Curry deserve a shot.

I think that out of this collection of easily available guys, we could find a platoon 1B that wouldn’t cost either a draft pick or a contract that would be crippling in the long term.

The only way to sign Kendrys is on a one-year deal with the under-the-table agreement that we would give him a QO and he would decline it – then perhaps his logging 100 games or so at 1B would push his value up to the point where he could get a deal for 2015 that would enable us to recover the draft pick.

James Wohler

Bret Wallace looks like a Pirates Pickup. 1st round draft pick, hit well in minors, maybe moved to quickly, with a good split against RHP. Could be a good platoon with Sanchez. .243 .307 .481 .787 that is the major league split….with all or almost all HR against RHP.


All of those guys sound like a terrible idea.


Solid high minors credentials????…Lambo!!!


I don’t like it. Pitching is never expendable, and none of the guys on that list are worth losing a trade over. None of those players are good at all really, and I’d rather pay for Morales than give up decent relievers for AAAA flunkies with limited experience and oddly one AA prospect. If your main criteria is “cheap”, then you get what you pay for, and 1B gets worse not better.

At this point it may just be best to let Lambo take his lumps and wait to see if the trade deadline provides better opportunity.


Morales has average 1.5 WAR over last two years, playing some 500 innings at first. Making him a first basemen means, in 2014 he will barely be worth the value of draft pick given up.


I can’t really get too excited or too upset when I hear these stories. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that the Pirates are pretty tightlipped about their intentions. Which means, this story of “interest” is probably coming from the other side, in this case Scott Boras, which leads me to believe he’s trying to drive up the price for his client, Morales.

Perhaps I’m getting too cynical, but most of these stories of “interest” come from agents trying to drive up prices or organizations trying to drive them down.

All that being said, I don’t see Morales as much of an upgrade, and certainly not if he can’t field the position.


Tim….he could sign him for minimum and I wouldn’t want him because we’d have to give up a draft pick.


What happens to Morales if no team gives up a draft pick? He gets pushed out of baseball? Does the draft pick requirement go away if this guy sits on the couch long enough?


I think I found the answer to my own question. After the draft in June, no compensation is required. Thanks


Yep, look for Morales to sign a one year deal for about $3M in June… someone will be desperate enough for a DH/1B and half the league will be contending.

Boras = WINNING!


Agree 100%. Aging, poor defender, and costs a 1st round pick. I’d rather go with Lambo than sign Morales even for a fraction of what he wants.

If he is still available after the draft – when he would no longer cost a draft pick – then I might consider him for the right price if no better left-hand option had come along. Even then, I’m not sure, however, due to his defense.


The amazing thing here is that this guy made $5.2 mil last year as a full time DH posted a whopping 1.2 WAR, and the Seattle Mariners extended a QO of $14.1 mil to this guy? Totally unbelievable. And even more unbelievable is that this guy and his wonderful agent turn down a one year contract for $14.1 mil. If this was the advice he received from his Agent, he should look elsewhere for representation.

Kenny Moore

His agent is Boras who always wants to squeeze every cent he can for his clients. He screwed up on this one. You don’t turn that type of money down if you are Morales.


This is only worth it if Morales can really play every day, and they use Sanchez as a platoon with Pedro. I don’t believe they’d actually do that, and I don’t believe Morales can hold up.

The advantage of having Morales over Davis, Moreland, Lambo, or Lind is that he won’t have to be pinch hit for against lefty relievers, and helps balance the lineup a bit better. He can hit 5th behind Pedro and provide decent protection against any handed pitcher. If they can get him for a couple years at 5mil per, it’s worth considering.

But, see the first paragraph. I am skeptical, and I also don’t believe the Pirates have serious interest.

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