By John Boyle
The Mariners tried to keep Kendrys Morales after a solid 2013 season, but the first baseman/designated hitter turned down the club’s offer. The Mariners reportedly continued their pursuit into this season when Morales was still unsigned, but he instead chose to sign with Minnesota.
Less than two months later, however, Morales is coming back to Seattle via a trade that sends relief pitcher Stephen Pryor to the Twins. Pryor, who is trying to come back from the torn lat muscle that cost him nearly all of last season, has spent most of this season in Tacoma.
Because Morales turned down the Mariners’ qualifying offer, signing with any other team as a free agent would have cost that team a first-round pick, which is why he went unsigned until the June draft, when that disincentive went away. Morales was hitting just .234 with 1 home run, 18 RBI and a .584 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, but that was after jumping into the middle of a season without a spring training. The Mariners will hope that Morales, now with 39 games under his belt, will look more like the player he was last year with Seattle when he hit .277 with 23 home runs, 80 RBI and .785 OPS.