By John Boyle
Looking to upgrade their struggling offense, the Mariners traded pitcher Jason Vargas to the Angels for first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
For both teams, the move addresses a need while sacrificing team strength. The Mariners are high on their young pitchers in the minor leagues, but have been a woeful team offensive for years, while the Angels needed pitching, but have plenty of bats, particularly after singing John Hamilton.
Morales, 29, hit .273 last season with 22 him runs, 26 doubles and 73 RBI in 134 games.
“We have been focused on adding offense this off-season, and feel that Kendrys will be a middle-of-the-order bat for us. He’s a switch-hitter with power who has played, and hit, in the AL West,” GM Jack Zduriencik said in press release. “He’s familiar with the teams and parks and is a proven run-producer. We hate to part with Jason, and really appreciate everything he’s done for us, but we are in a situation where we had to give up talent to acquire talent.”
Morales missed much of the 2010 season and all of the 2011 season after fracturing his leg celebrating a game-winning home run against the Mariners on May 29, 2010. At the time, he was enjoying a strong start to that season, and was coming off a career-best season in 2009 when he had 34 home runs, 43 doubles and 108 RBI, good for a fifth place finish in the AL MVP vote.
“Kendrys gives us a veteran presence and a proven, middle-of-the-order bat, with power from both sides of the plate,” manager Eric Wedge said in the press release. “Adding him to our line-up immediately makes us a better offensive club.”
Vargas has spent the last four seasons with the Mariners, and went 14-11 last year with a 3.85 ERA. Vargas is a fly-ball pitcher, however, so he may have been adversely affected by the Mariners’ decision to move the fences in at Safeco Field starting next season.