Yesterday, the Mariners helped to fill a hole that had been gaping in their lineup for years by adding power-hitter Kendrys Morales. In order to add this 29 year-old first baseman, Seattle sent Jason Vargas to the Angels.
This was an excellent deal for Seattle for two main reasons. First of all, Seattle gained something they dearly needed without spending money. In addition, they gave up a piece that was, not only unimportant to the team’s future, but was on the verge of losing its value.
Morales is an impact bat. He’s no Josh Hamilton, but he has certainly demonstrated his ability to be a legitimate power hitter. In Morales’ only full season in the MLB, which was 2009, he posted a .924 OPS and finished fifth in AL MVP voting. In the following year of 2010, he averaged a homerun every nineteen at bats before injuring himself celebrating a walk-off homerun just fifty-one games into the season.
Morales missed the rest of the 2010 season and the entire 2011 campaign as a result of the injury before coming back to play 134 games last year. In his limited opportunities, he hit twenty-two homeruns and posted a line of .273/.320/.476.
Remember that those numbers were produced by a man who had not played in almost two years. His numbers improved as the year progressed, so now that he has shaken off the cobwebs, he is ready to be the player he was pre-injury. For those of you worried about his health, the Mariners did extensive research concerning the status of his injury before making this deal, so it appears that he is ready to play every day at first base.
With the switch-hitting Morales in the middle of Seattle’s order, the young players around him will have a lot less pressure mounted on their back and they are now more likely to come to the plate with men on base. The addition of Morales will help everyone in the lineup.
As for losing Jason Vargas, I am not at all disappointed. As I have said in previous articles, I believe that Vargas would have quickly lost value once dropped into the habitat of the new Safeco Field. His success has been largely due to the pitcher-friendly ballpark, but with the fences coming in, Vargas’ numbers at home would have reflected the new dimensions. He would have had close to no trade value by the trade deadline next year. It was wise to move him now.
Vargas’ loss will also not damage Seattle’s future considering there are lots of great young pitchers in the top of the farm system that will step up into the void left by Vargas by the time that Seattle is in the playoff hunt.
There is nothing not to like about the long-term effects of this trade. Seattle now has a dependable middle of the lineup bat, something that they have not had since Raul Ibanez.