The Seattle Mariners and their GM Jack Zduriencik never made any efforts to hide it. They wanted Kendrys Morales in a Mariners' uniform in 2014. After being rejected by the switch-hitter several times, the M's made a move that he literally couldn't say no to. They traded for him.
Morales -- who was signed by the Minnesota Twins immediately after the compensation tied to retaining his services expired following the 2014 MLB Draft -- was acquired for the relatively low cost of right-handed reliever Stephen Pryor. After sitting out since last October, the 31-year-old Morales is hitting just .234/.259/.325 so far in 39 games for the Twins in the 2014 season, but he certainly has the potential to be a significant upgrade at designated hitter for the Mariners. Seattle's DHs have combined to produce just a .196/.277/.293 slash with 8 homers, 32 RBI, 33 walks and 86 strikeouts in 395 plate appearances this year, the most feeble totals in the American League.
Corey Hart has seen the most plate appearances for Seattle as the DH in 2014, slashing just .193/.276/.287 in 192 trips to the plate in 47 games. Hart missed 42 games earlier this season after being put on the DL for a strained hamstring and has managed to hit just .222/.294/.267 in 14 games since returning to Seattle's lineup. Morales hit .273/.342/.441 in 523 plate appearances as the M's DH in 2013 and for his career owns a .756 as a designated hitter.
Pryor was regarded by many (including SeattleClubhouse) as one of the top prospects in Seattle's organization a few seasons ago, but after pitching well in the second half of 2012 and dazzling in his first seven appearances of 2013, Pryor went on the disabled list with a lat injury that ended up requiring a rare surgical procedure to repair. After averaging 96.2 MPH on his fastball in 2012 and touching triple digits in his first outing and a handful of times thereafter and averaging 95.8 MPH during that small sample size to start the 2013 season, Pryor has been pitching primarily at 91-93 so far in 2014 as he works his way back from that procedure.
Seattle is second to last in the American League, averaging just 3.92 runs per game in 2014, and the team collectively has the worst OBP (.299) and SLG (.373) in the AL. Due to some of the best pitching in the game, however, Seattle maintains a slim half game lead in the AL for the second Wild Card spot entering play on Thursday.
Morales set personal career bests in games played (156), at bats (602) and BB (49) with Seattle last year and reached his second highest marks of his career in 2B (34), HR (23) and RBI (80) while serving as the Mariners' primary cleanup hitter, hitting .280/.333/.460 in 112 starts at that spot in the order.
He'll be in the lineup for the M's on Friday against the Orioles. He figures to once again be hitting 4th, behind Robinson Cano.
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