Just over a week ago, general manager Jack Zduriencik told multiple radio stations that the Seattle Mariners planned to make a qualifying offer to designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
A qualifying offer means the Mariners can offer Morales a one-year deal — worth roughly $13.8 million in this case — and Morales could either accept that contract or opt out and declare for free agency. If he declines the offer, any team that signs Morales must forfeit its 2014 first-round draft pick to the Mariners.
The deadline to make a qualifying offer is five days after the World Series ends. Morales would have until 12 days after the World Series to accept or turn down the offer.
It appears the Mariners already have their answer. On Tuesday, CBS Sports reported that Morales will spurn the qualifying offer and opt for free agency, an unsurprising move considering Morales’ agent, Scott Boras, often believes he can find better deals for his clients on the free agent market.
Morales’ numbers aren’t gaudy. He hit .277 with 34 doubles, 23 home runs and 80 RBI with a .785 on-base plus slugging percentage.
But the 2014 free agent class is relatively weak in terms of hitting and power. It features Robinson Cano, who is looking for a 10-year, $300 million contract; Nelson Cruz and his performance-enhancing drug baggage; Brian McCann; and Shin-Soo Choo, a Boras client who is looking for $100 million.
With Hunter Pence recently signing a 5-year, $90 million extension with the Giants, Boras and Morales must sense that they could land a multi-year deal. According to CBS, that multi-year deal could still come from the Mariners.
Of course, this move could backfire on Morales. His is a similar situation to the one Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche faced a year ago. LaRoche came off a career-best year and turned down the Washington Nationals’ $13.3 million qualifying offer. He hoped to fetch a three- or four-year contract, but found no takers on the open market. He eventually signed a two-year, $24 million deal with Washington.
WITHERSPOON CLAIMED, BLANCO DFA
The Mariners also made a minor roster move on Tuesday when they claimed outfielder Travis Witherspoon off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels.
In order to add Witherspoon to the 40-man roster, they made room by designating veteran catcher Henry Blanco for assignment. They now have 10 days to trade, release or outright Blanco’s contract to the minors.
Witherspoon, 24, spent last season at Double A Arkansas, hitting. 214 with 18 doubles, three triples, 11 homers and 38 RBI. Witherspoon can run — he stole 30 bases in 40 attempts in 129 games. He has 140 steals in his minor league career, including 110 since the start of the 2011 season.
Witherspoon, a native of Sumter, S.C., was a 12th-round draft pick by the Angels in the 2009 draft out of Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina.
Blanco was a likely DFA candidate. He’s 42, and his playing days are numbered. He was brought on to be a mentor for Mike Zunino and filled that role ably.
Blanco hit .125 in 35 games with the Mariners after being signed as a free agent June email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish