TORONTO- The Toronto Blue Jays found their new designated hitter as they officially signed DH Kendrys Morales to a three-year contract worth $33 million last Friday.
The 33-year old spend 10 years in the big leagues with the L.A. Angels of Anaheim, Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins and Kanas City Royals before signing with the Blue Jays. He hit .263 with 30 home runs and 93 RBIs last season with the Royals.
It looks like the Blue Jays decided to strike early to find a some balance in their lineup. Morales is a switch hitter with tremendous power on both sides and can bit for contact with a career batting line of .273/.331/.465. Look for his home runs total to increase with him hitting in the middle of the Blue Jays’ lineup at the the Rogers Centre 81 times.
Now keep in mind that the signing of Morales doesn’t necessarily ended the era of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. However, general manager Ross Atkins mention that it’s “less likely” that Encarnacion will be back with the Blue Jays, according to general manager Ross Atkins. He also pointed out that this move doesn’t have any effect on Bautista.
Even though both Encarnacion’s camp and Atkins are still talking about the possibility of Encarnacion resigning with the Blue Jays, it is hard to imagine both Encarnacion and Morales on the same team.
According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Encarnacion is demanding at least 5 years and $125 million. However the Blue Jays only made a 4-year offer worth $80 million. That’s a lot of money to lock up since the Blue Jays already have long term commitments with Troy Tulowitzku and Russell Martin at $40 million after 2017 season. They also have to consider about resigning Josh Donaldson to a contract extension after 2018.
Signing Morales at $11 million per season seems like a pretty good bargain for the Blue Jays. Rather than spending $25 million on one player, the Jays doe have some wiggle room with their payroll budget to address some other needs like the bullpen and corner outfielders.
This move is pretty similar to what the Blue Jays did last offseason when they signed J.A. Happ to replace David Price. Happ signed for 3 years worth $36 million and Price signed for 7 years worth $217 million with the Boston Red Sox. If you compare the two lefties, Happ showed his value worth when he finished the 2016 campaign with 21 wins and a 3.18 ERA while Price only had a 3.99 ERA and struggled during the postseason. This shows that good teams can’t buy players to win championships. Let’s not forget that the Blue Jays went further in the postseason than the Red Sox.
If Encarnacion ends up returning with the Blue Jays, he may have to make at least 140 starts at first base, which is something that he has never done before. Atkins did mention that Morales can get some playing time at first base or possible in the corner outfield, but his durability is a huge question marks.
In the end, it seems unlikely that Encarnacion comes back now that the Blue Jays just added Morales. Fans may be prepare to see the end of the parrot trot, but they should also be pleased that they are getting a solid hitter at a pretty good value. Blue Jays’ offense should be good. We’ll just see how good they can be in 2017.