Report: Yankees Could Pursue Free Agent Slugger Kendrys Morales
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While the Yankees have said the inflammation to Mark Teixeira’s surgically repaired wrist is no big deal, he keeps missing games.
And the Yankees’ offense continues to look anything but stellar in his absence.
The slugging first baseman missed all three games of the series against the Cardinals in St. Louis. New York managed to win two of three, but was shut out in the loss and recorded 11 singles and one double in its 7-4 victory on Wednesday in the rubber game.
When healthy, Teixeira, who may try to play Friday when the Yankees open a weekend series with the visiting Minnesota Twins, has been the only player in the lineup living up to his advanced billing, hitting a team-high 9 home runs and driving in 25 runs in just 125 at-bats. Newcomer Brian McCann and veteran Alfonso Soriano have struggled all season and slugger Carlos Beltran has been sidelined by a bone spur on his right elbow that may still need corrective surgery that would sideline him up to three months.
Those four players were supposed to make up the heart of the lineup and work in concert with the Yankees’ solid rotation. But reality has been quite different. In addition to their offense struggling, the Yankees are down three starting pitchers due to injuries. The only reason why they are currently in second place, three games behind Toronto in the AL East, has been the collective efforts of phenom right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, rookie infielder Yangervis Solarte and a stellar bullpen.
So as they wait for some help to return to the mound, the Yankees are also reportedly preparing to kick-start their offense. According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, they have potential interest in signing free agent first baseman Kendrys Morales. While he does not even come close to comparing to Teixeira defensively, Morales, 30, is a switch-hitter who can put the ball in the seats.
Many feared he wouldn’t be the same player after breaking his ankle four years ago Thursday while celebrating a walk-off home run for the Los Angeles Angels. Morales missed the final 111 games of 2010 and all of 2011.
But he came back again productive in 2012 for the Angels, batting .273 with 22 home runs and 73 RBI in 134 games. He then jumped to the Seattle Mariners last season and hit .277 with 23 homers and 80 RBI in 156 games, half of which were played in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.
The Mariners reportedly offered Morales a three-year, $30 million extension during the season, and then a $14.1 million qualifying offer before he hit the open market.
The Yankees can clearly use his type of production in their lineup and likely are not worried about the cost, considering they spent nearly $500 million this offseason to try to get back to the postseason following last season’s third-place showing in the AL East. Morales can play some first base and if Teixeira is healthy can be shifted to designated hitter, which could afford a lot of opportunities should Beltran require surgery and Soriano be forced to play in the outfield.
According to Rosenthal, the Yankees may be waiting until after the first day of the amateur draft to make their move. If Morales is still available after June 5 a team can sign him without losing a draft pick. If the Yankees were to move on Morales before then they’d lose the 55th overall pick.
Morales has 102 homers, 345 RBI and a .280 average during his seven-year career.
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