Kendrys Morales could have an unusual, but very real, value to the Pirates.
By not signing a free agent contract with the Pirates, Morales could improve the Pirates production at first-base.
In fact, Kendrys Morales can do more to help the Pirates at 1B by not signing with them than he could by becoming a Pirate . . . But he must sign with the right team to make that happen.
They should not have any interest in Morales. As a first-baseman, he is more of a designated hitter and he would cost the Pirates their first-round draft choice as compensation for signing him. However, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has stated that there are a couple of teams who might want to sign Morales – and that’s where things get interesting for the Pirates.
Heyman said that the Blue Jays are interested in Morales and that they don’t have the same concerns about compensation as most other teams – due to their two “protected” first round picks.
What does that have to do with the Pirates 1B conundrum?
If Toronto signs Morales, then they would be more likely to trade left-handed 1B Adam Lind (profiled here yesterday) – and the Pirates are a probable suitor. They discussed Lind with the Blue Jays at the winter meetings and they do have a need for a veteran option at the position.
If the Rangers were to sign Morales, then left-handed first-baseman Mitch Moreland would become available for trade. I have not yet done a profile and projection for Moreland (looks like it’s time), but Moreland does have a .788 career OPS vs right-handed pitchers with 56 HR in 1,209 plate appearances. He could make for a substantial platoon with Gaby Sanchez.
Moreland has a slightly above average 8.5% career walk rate and a moderate 20.3% strikeout rate, so, he would seem to be something other than a BB/K/HR type of hitter, but his career batting line (.253/.318/.440) does say “Three True Outcomes.” Low average, fair on-base percentage, and a whole lot of slugging.
In 3,035 career innings at !B, Moreland has a UZR per 150-Games of 4.2 runs above average. That might make him the best defender potentially available on the 1B market – and he would be a very good match for the Pirates groundball pitchers and reliance on top-notch fielding.
Adam Lind’s career UZR/150 at 1B is 2.3 runs below average.
Patience, my friends. The first-base market is far from settled.