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August 3, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Kendrys Morales not going to worry about Mariners extension in-season

Kendrys Morales (left) sits in dugout during a wet pregame afternoon here in Baltimore today. Teammate Brad Miller is seated to his left chatting with media members.

Kendrys Morales (left) sits in dugout during a wet pregame afternoon here in Baltimore today. Teammate Brad Miller is seated to his left chatting with media members.

Kendrys Morales is on his hottest hitting tear in several years. He has eight hits his past two games and 13 in the first four contests on this road trip.

For the season, he’s hitting .298 with 17 home runs, 63 runs batted in and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .841. The Mariners would likely want him back next year as a fixture in the middle of their batting order. Though he’d primarily be a DH, that’s OK, given all the uncertainty surrounding Jesus Montero. As of right now, Montero has done little to show he can hit in the majors. According to reports, he’s on a list of players about to receive a suspension as early as Monday for his part in the Biogenesis scandal.

If I’m with the Mariners, I’d be worried about Montero’s sudden power dropoff this year, compared to his 15-homer debut last season. Because if Montero ever did use performance enhancing drugs, you’d hope he would have gotten off them when the Biogenesis scandal broke last winter. And if that’s the case, I’d be worried that his power dropoff this year may have been caused by something other than his focusing too much on catching.

Anyhow, that’s all speculative for now. Bottom line: Montero hasn’t shown he can be a DH for a major league team and Morales has. The Mariners are nine games under .500 in the fifth year of their rebuilding plan and have to figure out a way not to waste Year No. 6 giving more tryouts to young guys who may have used PEDs to help get on the radar in the first place.

Just one man’s opinion.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said this week that he’d like to approach some veteran players as the season winds down and chat about an extension. The obvious one would be Morales. Today, we spoke to him, using bullpen coach Jamie Navarro as an interpreter, and asked how he felt about a possile return to Seattle in 2014.

“I feel comfortable here, I like what I see,” he said. “We have a young team and I like the team a lot. But that’s not a decision I can make. That’s something they need to work out up in the (front) office. I’m not going to worry about it. I’m just worrying about helping the team.”

Morales was asked whether he’d prefer to wait until after the season for negotiations to begin.

“I haven’t worried about it,” he said. “I’m worrying about finishing strong and then we’re going to talk about it.”

In other words, after the season. His agent, Scott Boras, has never been big on in-season negotiations anyway.

The Mariners could also look to bring back Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez as well. That could start to get crowded, since there aren’t an abundance of DH and part-time outfield jobs to give away and between Morales and Justin Smoak, you’d have first base covered.

Morse could be looked at as a fallback plan if a Morales deal didn’t work out. With Morales, you could also make a qualifying offer to him and collect a draft pick if he leaves as a free agent. Or, if he stayed for one year, you could pay him $14 million. The Mariners have the Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez salaries set to come off the books this winter so $14 million for a year of Morales in 2014 is hardly a bank-buster.

As for his current hot streak, Morales says it’s simply a matter of being selective.

“I’m just trying to select good pitches and make good contact,” he said. “I’m trying to do my best and drive the ball. I’m not trying to do too much when it comes to making things happen.”

A lot of his hits — including last night’s home run — are coming on the first pitch.

“I’m trying to be aggressive on the first pitch,” he said. “If they throw it for a strike, then I’m going to go after it.”

Now, the Mariners just have to throw a strike with any contract offer and hope Morales proves just as aggressive.

 

 

Comments | More in Free agents | Topics: kendrys morales; jesus montero; extension; jack zduriencik

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