As I'm sure most of you know, per Jon Heyman a couple afternoons ago, free agent DH Kendrys Morales has signed with the Twins for the remainder of 2014.
Morales, 30, has been on the radar for Texas Rangers fans since this most recent offseason, after he -- with agent Scott Boras -- rejected the Mariners $14.1 million qualifying offer, thus making Kendrys free to sign with a team of his choosing. Unfortunately for him, his gamble never really paid off.
Due to the latest CBA, front offices can only issue a qualifying offer to players who have given service to that team specifically for at least a year, and, should said player sign elsewhere, the team he's leaving would receive the highest draft pick from the franchise the player signs with (given it's not one of the protected 1-10 picks in round one). Still following? Nice.
To make a long story short: 1st round picks are more valuable than they've ever been, and front offices are proportionally as reluctant as ever to give them away for anything less than top-shelf talent.
And this, primarily, is why Kendrys Morales stayed a free agent for so long. Since he waited until after the Rule 4 draft, the Mariners won't receive draft pick compensation from Minnesota, and it's because a draft pick wasn't owed that made it reasonable for a team to take the chance on him in the first place. (For the Twins, it makes extra-sense, because if Morales has a strong couple of months they can cash him in for a prospect.)
It's a net-loss for both Seattle and Morales, as the M's could have used his bat this summer, and, for Kendrys, he lost nearly two and a half months of playing time only to get paid roughly the same amount as if he'd just taken the original one-year, $14.1 million QO and called it a day.
As for the Rangers, the loss of the #30 pick in the draft -- which they turned into a high school pitcher named Luis Ortiz -- was reason enough to pass on Kendrys Morales. Once the injuries started piling towards the end of April and through May, the idea of adding a designated hitter who literally does nothing else well made even less sense, in spite of all the clamoring that Texas's offense could use him. Duh.
Texas is a team heavy in talent at several spots on the diamond, but equally weak (or sub-replacement) in many others, which will very likely prove to be their downfall.
So, hypothetically, had they signed Kendrys Morales after the draft, the Rangers likely could have expected a win increase by about +1.0 over the rest of the year; for a team hovering around a 79 or 80-win projection, that extra win simply isn't very valuable. In baseball utopia -- where Holland, Harrison, Perez, Fielder, Profar, Kouzmanoff, Soto and Ogando are all functioning on the field in perfect harmony -- the Rangers would have been at full strength right now, and Morales's bat would have been worth serious discussion.
But baseball happens, so this is all just one really big moot point.