Besides the Brewers, 28 other teams had their chance to sign Kendrys Morales and passed. Every team could have signed him this off-season, but none did. As the season began, teams were unwilling to forfeit a draft choice and sign the unsigned free-agent. Finally after the draft, many Brewers fans insisted that the Brewers upgrade the first base position, and get the deal done. But he remained unsigned until a surprise team, the Minnesota Twins, pulled the trigger on a one year deal to bring him into the fold. While he may have provided an upgrade at the plate, here is a look at several reasons the Brewers passed on Morales.
The first problem with bringing in Morales is money. This season, by adding players like Matt Garza, the club has already exceeded the highest payroll in franchise history. If they would have added Morales, the Brewers would not only have gotten a player who has yet to step on the field this season, but one with a high price-tag. When Morales signed with the Twins, he was given a prorated 12 million dollar contract that is currently worth around 7.5 million dollars. A hefty price tag for a small market team to pay on a rented player.
A second issue with Morales is speed. In the Brewers lineup, players often run. Adding Morales to the mix would be like adding a speed bump the middle of the lineup. Not only does he have only four career stolen bases, but he not the type of player to look for to take an extra base. He has also been among the league leaders in grounding into double plays throughout his career. While current first baseman Mark Reynolds is not a burner, he is a player who can be aggressive on the bases and look to get more.
A third factor is the glove that Morales brings to the mix. With Joe Mauer playing first base in Minnesota, Morales was signed specifically to be a designated hitter. Through seven seasons, he has only played 343 games at first base. Over the past two years, he has played just under 60 games combined at the position. With the defense of Reynolds and Lyle Overbay this season, countless runs have been saved. Had they brought in Morales, they would have one of the worst defenders at the position and a player with almost zero range.
Finally, by not signing Morales the Brewers kept the locker room together. With a 162 game season, chemistry of a ball club is one of the most underrated parts of a team. The Brewers have been rolling this year through the first two months, and are off to one of the best starts in team history. If Morales would have been signed a player like Overbay would have to be let go. Whenever Overbay comes up with a big hit or a homerun, the entire bench often stands up and gives an “O” out to him on the field. Making a move like this could have a great effect on a close knit group.
Kendrys Morales can hit. As a career .280 hitter, who puts the ball in play, he may have been the best offensive option to improve the Brewers at first base. But the risk of adding a player mid-season who has zero at-bats may outweigh the reward. With Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup, the Reynolds and Overbay platoon can continue. The bat of Morales would have been a nice piece, but the other negative factors were just too strong to bring him in. This club has produced all year and the lineup will be just fine without him.
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