REPORT: Baltimore close to saving Mariners

 Yep, you read the title correctly. The Baltimore Orioles are reportedly close to a deal to save the Seattle Mariners from Nelson Cruz. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com wrote early Saturday morning that the Orioles were nearing a deal with Cruz.

If and when the deal becomes official, Cruz will be off the market, leaving Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, New York Mets or Pittsburgh Pirates — or perhaps an ever-popular mystery team.

I wrote late Friday night and included a potential lineup should the M’s bring back Morales. Seriously, it wouldn’t be too darned bad.

Morales, however, is represented by the Boras Corporation, an agency known for playing hardball until the bitter end. At the start of the offseason, many believe the asking price for both Cruz and Morales was somewhere beyond four guaranteed years at $15 million per season. We don’t know what Cruz’s deal with the Orioles looks like just yet, but it will be a useful barometer for Morales’ deal, both in years and dollars.

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at InsidethePark.com. He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016. Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.

36 Comments

  1. Is it me, or does it seem like Ken Rosenthal is basically an unpaid spokesperson for big-market teams and big-name agents?

  2. I’ll wait to make guesses on all the starters. But here are my picks for breakouts/disappointments:

    Best hitter: Cano (crazy, I know)
    Best pleasant surprise hitter: Dustin Ackley (I think he turns into the .315/.390/.425 guy we all hoped for)
    Biggest disappointment hitter: Cory Hart (significant bust potential)
    Best pitcher: Felix (many of you might not have noticed, but he’s good)
    Best pleasant surprise pitcher: James Paxton (I foresee him being better than Walker)
    Biggest disappointment pitcher: Iwakuma (expecting a repeat of 2013 isn’t a safe bet)

    Why not for the minors, too:
    New top position player: Austin Wilson (there is a good chance he’ll be the best prospect in the M’s system by the end of next season)
    New top pitcher: Edwin Diaz (I foresee him emerging as a solid yet not elite pitching prospect with #2 upside)
    Breakout position player: Tyler O’Neill (after destroying the lower levels of the farm system and earning praise from coaches for being a high-strung tweaker, he’ll be the guy everyone wants to see next year)
    Breakout pitcher: Luiz Gohara (I think he’ll turn into a big fat bastard who can pitch like a madman)
    Disappointing position player: Tyler Marlette (don’t know why, just have a bad feeling)
    Disappointing pitcher: Tyler Pike (I foresee problems against more advanced bats)

  3. “Anyone want to try to guess on the final offensive numbers for each player?”

    This would be a great topic for a separate thread.

  4. Kendry Morales is nothing like Edgar. Thats not a fair comp.

  5. I think plummeted it pretty accurate. Cruz just lost $6 million. It seems highly likely that Morales also signs for well under $14 mil. Regardless of how you define ‘plummeted’, both of those players (and the agents advising them) shit the bed pretty bad. Inability to adequately predict the market just cost them millions.

  6. Our roster is filled with question marks. We have young players that have under achieved and been terribly inconsistent and players dealing with or coming of injuries. I really don’t know what to think. Spring is always a time for optimism and hope, but what can we realistically expect from our players on offense?

    Anyone want to try to guess on the final offensive numbers for each player?

    Regarding Erasmo Ramirez…I was so disappointed with him last year that I have a hard time counting on him for ANYTHING. Not sure how you can pencil him in with confidence as a #3 starter?

    Looking at the roster it still looks incomplete. I am sure Jack is trying to add a player or two but he is running out of time…

  7. From what I’m reading I’m starting to have more faith in Ackley and Smoak being more productive this year, Erasmo and Zunino too. Having HoJo and McLendon both working with the hitters seems to be a real positive influence on them. Time will tell, I think Erasmo will end up as the 3rd starter and Ackley as the leadoff hitter. I think Ackley will steal quite a few more bases this year too.

  8. Agreed, and the double benefit was more Boras spinning things as only he can do…

  9. He turned down a guaranteed 14.1 million one year to sign an 8 million guaranteed one year.

    Really can’t imagine how you can argue that’s not a dramatic disappointment for Cruz with a straight face. You do realize he got less than 60% of the guaranteed money he turned down right?

    What is dramatic to you, less than half the guaranteed money? < 25%?

    As far as Cruz getting what he's worth, fine. But that wasn't the question you posed. Your question was basically "name the last free agent Boras really messed up big on?".

  10. I understand what Rosenthal is saying in the article, but I don’t know that there really is a “double benefit”. It’s being assumed that the existing hole from this year will automatically be carried over to next year. It also assumes that there’s no other option to filling a hole other than signing a free agent who decline a qualifying offer. What if an internal option surprises and ends up filling the hole? Or a trade is made? Or a free agent without draft pick compensation is signed? I only see the “double benefit” happening in an extremely specific situation.

  11. Since when has Texas cared about pitching? I live in Houston now, and have made trips to Arlington to attend Texas/Seattle games (before Houston switched leagues) and the ball just flies out of that park. It is really something to see in person…

  12. Very interesting article on big 3 remaining free agents:

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/compensation-free-agents-may-hold-out-until-after-june-draft-022314

    Summary:

    1. If a player signs after opening day (even on day 2 of the season) he isn’t eligible for a qualifying offer tied to draft pick compensation at the end of the year because HE WAS NOT WITH HIS TEAM THE ENTIRE SEASON. Good option for Drew or Morales to sign a one year deal and avoid the tag next year!

    2. There is a “double benefit” for holding out and signing in June. #1 the team would not have to give up a draft pick to sign a player. #2 the club signing the player would not have to give up their 2015 pick they would have given up to fill a hole via free agency the following offseason. Just an added benefit to early “Christmas shopping.”

    3. Pitching is always in demand and a guy like Santana would be very valuable after June to a team in need. Injuries happen and with expanded playoffs more teams stay in the hunt and think they are a pitcher short of contention. A pre-trade deadline move without having to lose a draft pick or trade players/prospects.

    I was previously skeptical but I think we might see a player hold out and not sign before the draft this year.

    Thoughts?

  13. Oh and by the way, I will admit to BELIEVING something can be done if I THINK it can get done, just like you said. So you do really have me there.

  14. Gardner signs an extension with the Yankees 4/52. The next free agent class is going to be one of the weakest ever! Furthers my point that Cruz and Morales are smart to sign one year deals and re-enter the field next year. Morales isn’t going to take a one year deal with Seattle because he can put up better numbers somewhere else. I am fine with moving on from him, but if we do sign him on a reasonable team friendly deal that would be fine. Not holding my breath for it to happen…

  15. I agree. The idea that Seattle needs to sign Morales for more than one year is a lame argument, IMO. I could go for a one year contract, and let Smoak, LoMo, and eventually DJ Peterson battle it out to be the Firstbaseman.

    But, Morales is at most, a two-day a week player at first. I’d have no problem bringing in Morales on a reasonable three-year deal, if Seattle sees him as their future (until 2017) DH. Right now, they don’t need him, but he’d be nice to have. But, he’s not a Smoak replacement.

    For most of they young players, I think you have to consider the effects of hearing the same things (or some new things) from a new coaching staff. They tend to stick a little better than hearing the same things from the usual suspects. I wouldn’t rush to add any player that doesn’t figure into the future.

  16. I’d say that $8 million with incentives isn’t “plummeting”. Cruz got what he’s worth. And Morales will too. It’s not like he’s gonna “plummet” in value.

  17. I think GMZ is going to wait on any additional signings until he can get a good read on what he has already and where his most significant need is. Can Hart play in the outfield or will he have to DH to get his bat into the lineup? Is Smoak actually going to hit enough to keep a hold on 1B? Is the rotation in need of serious help? Is Kendrys someone they need or just someone they would like to have around? I’d like to see them keep Morales but not if they really don’t need him. There are enough other possible needs to be addressed. Sometime the best move is no move at all.

  18. Didn’t Smoak outperform his contract last year? To me that is at least something. You need roster fillers who make very little money. Last year Smoak did that imo. He still could become an average MLB player imo. Obviously has a ways to go and not much time, but at least he showed progress last year.

  19. The last? Nelson Cruz.

  20. Edman, pump the brakes man. Saying I’d LIKE to trade for either pitching or outfield is hardly an outlandish concept. I didn’t even give target names and you all but accused me of rosterbating. Did you come here looking for conflict? Or do trades with infielders only exist in the world of roto?

  21. Nelson Cruz, with his juicing and home/away splits, is not a good “comp” for Morales––the best hitter for the Mariners in 2013. Namely, Cruz needs a pillow contract to boost his value, post-peds.

    And the logjam at 1B/DH argument doesn’t fly if Kendrys Morales is, logically, the most likely player over Smoak/LoMo/Hart to be productive and healthy in 2014. Anyway, if I’m going to jam the middle of the line-up with a proven hitter, Morales is the first choice to cram behind Cano. Hart is right there, but Smoak and LoMo are huge question marks now.

    Corey Hart is only signed through 2014; Smoak may never become a consistent major league hitter; LoMo is, thus far, only potentially good extrapolating from his first full year with the Marlins a few years ago (and ignoring two injury years).

    Everyone here can go down a list of twenty-plus players that JackZ has acquired or promoted who have failed to hit as Mariners. Russell “Bad Back” Branyon and Kendrys Morales are the two most notable exceptions. Why not reward Morales generously and fairly to shore the middle of the line-up through the 2016 season? If we’re worried about Hart’s knees, how do we know he will be able to hit at all, even at DH? If his knees hold up, will he sign here after 2014? Smoak has been nothing but wishful thinking his entire ML tenure? LoMo needs to ShoMo.

    3 years/ $30MM would be a solid, goodwill offer for a player that will most likely, of these players, help anchor a lineup that features Robinson Cano.

  22. I can’t imagine Texas doing anything that doesn’t bolster their pitching staff. After Darvish, it is really a bunch of question marks. Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando Tommy Hanson with Tanner Scheppers a possibility. I’d take the Mariners projected staff over this one. It is true, Morales would be a DH improvement over Moreland, however.

  23. Morales is young enough to sign a one year deal with a team in a hitter friendly park and then get his money next year. He would be one of the top hitters available next year. I think Texas would be a perfect place to go on a one year deal, put up some crazy numbers in that ballpark and in a lineup full of protection, and then cash in at year end. Texas is going for a championship this year, and the move might be the one that puts them over the top!

  24. I bet Morales is kicking himself for turning the qualifying offer down now.

  25. Yeah, some don’t get it. They believe if they think it can be done, that it can be done. Working out trades is typically a difficult proposition. You need to have what other GMs want, and another GM has to be willing to give up what you want.

    It’s not like roto league.

  26. I don’t see Morales going more than $8m/yr now. I’d LOVE to land him on a 3yr $7.5m/yr contract. Hell how about a 3yr $21m guaranteed with add’l $2-3m/yr on incentives.

    No way anybody except Seattle offers him more than a 1yr deal. Not after the Cruz deal.

  27. Glad Cruz found another home. Hope Kendrys is offered the chance and accepts it to stick around with the M’s. He’s shown he can hit in The Safe, the players seem to like him and he’s a professional hitter. Edgar showed us what the DH can provide and Kendrys seems capable of providing similar value. He’s not as old as Cruz and worthy of a three year deal with a club option if Boras can eat enough crow to let a deal happen. He’s worth $8 million AAV, I’d be okay with $10 million, he’s value for money. Who else can they get who can barbecue pig Cuban style?

    Ackley will hit leadoff this season.

  28. 1) The CBA does not allow any kind of guarantee that a qualifying offer will or will not be offered. Of course there can be under the table handshake agreements, but legally none of that can be included in a contract.
    2) Cruz probably would’ve been better off staying in Texas, but Texas knows him better than any other club and it’s most likely they valued his compensation pick higher than his reduced salary on even a one year deal.
    3) Maybe a player with a limited skill set might think twice, but I find it very hard to believe this winter affects much moving forward. Consider all the anomalies in play this year: the Tanaka sweepstakes through a huge wrench into the pitching market, all that TV money is hypothetically kicking in this year, and teams have placed an absolute premium on draft picks and bonus money allotted per pick. Not to mention that some of the top free agents really aren’t that good. Personally, I don’t consider Garza or Santana to be an ace pitcher, but given what was available on the market, they were perceived to be one. All these things will balance themselves out again soon enough. There’ll always be teams willing to lose a pick to get better in the short run, and as teams get more money, player salaries will continue to increase as they have been for several years now.

  29. Again, the belief is that if the Mariners could trade Franklin and Smoak for a useful outfielder or starter it would’ve been done by now. Obviously a lot can change between now and the start of the season, but the market is typically slow as teams try and figure out what all they have during the first chuck of Spring Training.

  30. If the rumored $8 for one year is true, it shows you how much Cruz DID NOT want to go to Seattle. Baltimore is real anal about physicals, so who knows if he passes his physical or not? Certainly not a done deal. Couple of questions this raises:

    1. Did Cruz receive a guarantee he would not get tendered a qualifying offer next year? Baltimore is a nice hitters park, and he could put up some nice numbers there are hit the market next year.
    2. Was Texas not interested at this low price? Seems like he would have been better off staying in Texas. He could have put up even better numbers there, and would not have to move his family…
    3. I think this will make players think twice about rejecting the tender next year.

    I still don’t see Morales coming back here. If there is little or no market for his services, he could accept a one year deal from another team and hit the market again next year. He is young enough that he could still get a decent deal next year, in a weak free agent class. What team (that plays in a hitter friendly park) still needs a 1B/DH on a reasonable one year deal? Maybe the Twins? I imagine Morales believes Safeco Field affected his numbers (as Adrian Beltre did) and would love to go to a hitter friendly park and put up numbers to try again next year.

    Final thought…Seattle has a ton of question marks but I am so glad they didn’t give Cruz the money he was looking for.

  31. Morales’ value just plummeted? Holy unrealistic expectations, Batman!!!! Name the last talented Boras client who didn’t come away wealthy?

    At the worst, it may have set Morales’ value as somewhat less than $8 million, but he’s not coming in at minimum wage.

  32. If we did sign Morales, I would love to trade one of Smoak or LoMo along with Franklin for either Pitching or OF. I wonder what kind of deal Boras can even swing for Morales now, though I do not think it will be only seven figures.

  33. Jason – Now with the Cruz signing, what’s your take on what Morales will get. We are talking Boras here, but do you think Seattle getting a 3yr $21-24m deal done with Morales is possible?!

  34. That lineup would be doable in the 1st half to see how the OF adjusts under new leadership and coaching. I totally expect Seattle to make a mid-season CF trade though, and still expect a potential trade for a SP too between now and July.

  35. 1yr $8m with $750k incentives.

    WOW! That was a good signing for the O’s! Boras ran to the bathroom puking on this knowing Morales value just plummeted! I can see Seattle offering Morales 3yrs at $21-$24m now to be our DH and fit him behind Cano & Hart in the lineup:

    SS Miller
    3B Seager
    2B Cano
    RF Hart
    DH Morales
    1B Smoak
    LF Ackley
    CF Saunders/Almonte
    C Zunino

    We are still CF weak though in that lineup, but that lineup is more than doable! We would be basically replacing Ibanez’s 29 HR bat (horrible Defense) with Cano & Hart. We’ve actually gained HRs from last year, improved Defense, and a LOT more balanced with RHP/LHP matchups versus last year.

  36. And according to a trade rumors website, Baltimore and Cruz have agreed to a one year deal worth 8 million, plus incentives. Does this make it more likely that the M’s will bring back Morales? Seems pretty cheap being that Cruz was originally asking for 4-5/75.

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