Kendrys Morales has been a free agent since he turned down a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Mariners back in November. Despite slashing a solid .277/.336/.449 last season in 657 plate appearances, the 30-year-old has found the market quiet for his services. Part of the reason for that is the draft pick compensation attached to Morales thanks to the qualifying offer. But according to one report earlier this week, teams have been put off by Morales' contract demands so far. And if a new report out of Seattle is to be believed, Morales could have avoided this long bout of unemployment and gotten the cash he wanted well before the offseason even started.
According to Todd Dybas of the Tacoma News-Tribune, Morales and his agent, Scott Boras, declined a lucrative contract offer from the Mariners in-season that would have kept the Cuban first baseman in Seattle for the next three years:
Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik fielded questions at the end of a meet-and-greet with season-ticket holders on opening night at Safeco Field. He was asked about Morales and said the Mariners had offered him a three-year, $30 million contract, which was declined. The offer was made during last season after the All-Star break.
Once Morales turned down that offer and the one-year qualifying offer, Seattle moved quickly to replace him, signing Corey Hart and trading for Logan Morrison to fill open spots in the outfield and at designated hitter. Hart has a .200/.256/.425 line with three homers through 40 at-bats, while Morrison has struggled to a .150/.227/.150 line so far. With Seattle's offer long gone, Morales will likely remain unsigned until after this season's draft, which would allow teams to forego giving up a first-round pick in exchange for his services. After that waiting period, Morales should be able to find a new team, but is unlikely to command anything longer than a one-year contract. On the plus side for Morales, at least he won't have to worry about going through this mess again next year. Players who sign after the season's first day cannot receive a qualifying offer in the offseason, meaning that Morales will return to being a regular free agent at season's end.