The Mariners have acquired first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for left-handed pitcher Jason Vargas.
Morales, 29, has played his entire career with the Angels, batting .281 (455×1620) with 79 home runs and 265 RBI across six Major League seasons (2006-2010, 2012). In 2012, the Cuban native batted .273 (132×484) with 26 doubles, 22 home runs 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,” Zduriencik said. “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.”
After a career-best season in 2009 in which he recorded 43 doubles, 34 home runs, 108 RBI and finished 5th in the American League MVP voting, Morales was limited to 51 games in 2010 and missed the entire 2011 season. He suffered a fractured lower left leg following his walk-off grand slam May 29, 2010 vs. the Mariners. At the time of his season-ending surgery, Morales ranked amongst the American League leaders batting .290 with 11 home runs and 39 RBI.
“Kendrys gives us a veteran presence and a proven, middle-of-the-order bat, with power from both sides of the plate,” said Mariners manager Eric Wedge. “Adding him to our line-up immediately makes us a better offensive club.”
Morales originally signed with the Angels as an International Free Agent on Dec. 1, 2004. He defected to the USA on June 8, 2004 after a storied career in the Cuban National Program. As a Cuban amateur he combined to bat .330 (287×871) with 37 home runs and 170 RBI. He was the first teenager to play for the Cuban National Team since Omar Linares in the 1980s.
Vargas, 29, has pitched the last four seasons with the Mariners, combining to go 36-42 with a 4.09 ERA (319 ER, 702.2 IP) in 119 games/110 starts. The left-hander has logged consecutive 200.0 inning seasons, combining to go 24-24, 4.04 ERA in 65 starts in 2011-2012. Last season, Vargas led the Mariners in wins, going 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA (93 ER, 217.1 IP), and ranked 4th in the AL with 22 quality starts.
Morales’ Career Highlights:
- Safeco Field – Career .292 hitter (35×120) with 7 home runs and 23 RBI in 34 games at Safeco Field (.346 OBP, .558 SLG).
- Switch Hitter – As left-handed batter (.290/66 HR/207 RBI)…As right-handed batter (.250/13 HR/62 RBI).
- Positions – Appeared at first base (312 G/286 GS), designated hitter (110 G/108 GS) and right field (18 G/5 GS) during MLB career…in 2012 started 92 games as designated hitter and 28 games at first base.
- Playoffs – Appeared in 16 postseason games with the Angels in 2007 (ALDS), 2008 (ALDS) and 2009 (ALDS, ALCS).
- Homered from both sides of the plate and had 6 RBI in the 6th inning July 30, 2012 at Texas…became the 3rd player in MLB history to homer from both sides of the plate in the same inning (also, Carlos Baerga w/ CLE, April 8, 1993 & Mark Bellhorn w/ CHC, Aug. 29, 2002).
- Dating back to 2009 (and despite missing a season and a half), has hit the 8th-most home runs (67) amongst MLB switch-hitters.
- In 2009 he ranked amongst AL leaders in slugging percentage (2nd, .569), extra base hits (3rd, 79), home runs (T6th, 34), RBI (T5th, 108), doubles (T8th, 43), total bases (6th, 322), OPS (8th, .924) and batting average (12th, .306).
- Named AL Player of the Month (August 2009) and two-time AL Player of the Week (July 27-Aug. 2, 2009) & April 19-25, 2010).
- On the disabled list from May 30, 2010 to the beginning of the 2012 season after suffering a fractured lower left leg.