The Seattle Mariners will "definitely" make a qualifying offer to first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales this winter, according to general manager Jack Zduriencik on 710 ESPN Radio. The offer would be for a one-year, $14 million deal that would keep Morales in Seattle for a second season, and will likely surpass the average annual value of any deal he could receive as a free agent on the open market.
Morales, 30, hit .277 with 23 HR and 80 RBI in 156 games during his first season with the Mariners, finishing with a solid stat line despite a late-summer slump that many have speculated will lower his free agent value. Morales' agent Scott Boras is known to be asking for a high price for the slugger, noting that his numbers will likely improve if he is hitting somewhere other than the pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. Due to Boras' high expectations, extension talks between Morales and the Mariners never became serious over the summer, according to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.
Morales is slated to be one of the most coveted free agent first baseman available this offseason, along with Mike Napoli, Jose Dariel Abreu, James Loney and Justin Morneau. While the qualifying offer will increase the chances of a return to Seattle, other teams would have to surrender a first-round pick to sign Morales, which will likely decrease his stock in the eyes of other clubs.
In addition to Morales, five other Mariners will become free agents at the completion of the World Series. Catchers Ronny Paulino and Humberto Quintero, left-hander Oliver Perez and outfielders Endy Chavez and Raul Ibanez will all hit the open market.