The Mariners, in search of offense despite the offseason acquisitions of Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, re-acquired DH Kendrys Morales, whom they could not re-sign in the offseason, from the Twins in exchange for righthanded reliever Stephen Pryor.
Morales, who received a qualifying offer from Seattle when he became a free agent after the 2013 season, rejected that offer but found his market to be neutered by the prospect of a team giving up its first-round draft selection.
Ultimately, he signed with the Twins shortly after the draft in June, but his tenure in Minnesota lasted just 39 games. With Justin Smoak recently optioned to Triple-A, Morales could fit at first or DH for the wild-card contending Mariners, who rank next to last in the American League in runs scored.
Stephen Pryor, rhp
A fifth-round pick in 2010 out of Tennessee Tech, Pryor rose as high as No. 11 on the Mariners’ prospect list after the 2012 season before falling off the list altogether after 2013. He has a big, strong frame and his stuff is just as intimidating as his 6-foot-4, 245-pound appearance. He loads up on his back leg and fires his fastball between 94-97 mph, topping out at 99. The issue with him has been control and he also hasn’t found a way to conquer lefties. He’s been serving as a setup reliever, and that is likely his ceiling unless he develops an offspeed pitch to combat portside batters. This season, he’s still struggling to return from a torn back muscle injury he sustained in 2013.
Kendrys Morales, 1b/dh
Age: 31. Bats: B.
Service time (preseason): 6.057. Contract status: Qualifies for free agency after the season.
Though Morales has struggled so far, Seattle’s DH position to this point has an aggregate .217/.294/.343 slash line, so he should be an immediate upgrade. The Mariners were said to be interested in bringing Morales back after he posted a .785 OPS last season, but the sides did not come to an agreement after the Mariners extended him the one-year, $12 million qualifying offer. He returns to the Pacific Northwest with approximately $4.3 million remaining on his contract. He could platoon with Corey Hart at DH, though he also made 12 starts at first with the Twins and could play first with Justin Smoak demoted.