According to Travis Sawchik of the Trib, the Pirates are unlikely to extend an offer to Justin Morneau. The 32-year-old first baseman hit .260/.370/.312 in 25 regular season games and .292/.320/.333 in the postseason with the Bucs.
This news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, and with Garrett Jones likely to be non-tendered within the next few weeks, the Bucs are definitely in the market for a first baseman this winter.
Tom Singer of pirates.com writes, “(First base) has been an unstable spot for years. The last time someone started more than 70 percent of the games here was Adam LaRoche in 2008. It’s the club’s main free-agent target, and switch-hitting Kendrys Morales tops Huntington’s list.”
The main points there are:
1) 1B is the “main free-agent target”
2) Kendrys Morales is the name atop Neal Huntington’s list
Morales was identified as a trade target for the club back in July. The Mariners held on to him at the deadline, planning to extend a qualifying offer to him after the season – but he plans to decline.
Career stats for the 30-year-old first baseman:
Morales, a Scott Boras client, has been worth about 1.5 wins above replacement per year over the last few seasons, with his best campaign coming in 2009 with the Angels as a 3.0 WAR performer. The Pirates have tried to employ platoons at 1B in the past, though Morales eliminates that as a switch-hitter. He has a good bit of pop; about 21 of his 23 home runs in 2013 would’ve left the yard at PNC Park:
I’m skeptical about his defense; he only played 22 games at 1B last year, with the rest of his time being spent as the designated hitter. He’s a perfect DH for an American League club, but can he play a full year in the field for a National League squad?
Keep your eye out for Kendrys Morales’ name this winter… Let’s see if the Pirates pursue him.