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2014 MLB Free Agent Profile: Kendrys Morales

The Mets didn't get much production out of their first basemen in 2013. Is Kendrys Morales the answer?

Otto Greule Jr

Kendrys Morales was a star in Cuba before fleeing in 2004, at which point he established foreign residency in the Dominican Republic and signed with the Angels. He had his breakout season in 2009, hitting .306/.355/.569 with 34 home runs, but since then his offense has declined significantly, failing to hit .300 or top 25 home runs in any season since. He missed most of 2010 and all of 2011 with an ankle injury caused by stomping on home plate after a walk-off grand slam in May 2010.

In 2013, Morales hit .277/.336/.449, good for a 116 wRC+, similar to his 2012 line of .273/.320/.467 (118 wRC+). He has never topped the production of his breakout 2009 season and has averaged about eight runs below average on the bases per season. He has been an above average defensive first baseman over the course of his career, but UZR rated him as below average in 2013.

The Cost

It has been reported that the Seattle Mariners intend to offer Morales a qualifying offer and that Morales would reject it. That means that Morales would expect to receive more than a one-year, $14 million deal on the open market. Since Morales would have draft pick compensation attached, his value could be hurt dramatically, similar to Adam LaRoche last offseason. Recently, Fangraphs’ contract crowdsourcing project predicted that Morales would receive a three-year, $32.5 million contract.

The Fit

Kendrys Morales is a very good hitter, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he would serve as an upgrade over what the Mets already have. Lucas Duda had a higher wRC+ in 2013 and has a similar career wRC+: Morales is at 117 while Duda is at 115. Since Duda won’t require a significant monetary commitment, it would seem that Morales is not enough of an offensive upgrade to merit spending much money on him. Morales has been worth only 2.9 fWAR over the past two seasons, meaning that he basically an average ballplayer. Despite the Mets' woes at first base in 2013, it's hard to imagine Morales representing more than a marginal improvement over cheaper in-house options.