The New York Yankees could be the eventual landing spot for Kendrys Morales. Due to a recent rash of injuries, the club is showing interest in signing the free agent designated hitter/first baseman, sources tell Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The Yankees now join a list of suitors that, though still small, has grown quite a bit since the season began.
As it has been well discussed, any team that signs Morales would have to give up a draft pick, which have become increasingly valuable under the current CBA. Because of this, the Yankees (who would have to surrender the 55th overall pick if they signed him in the next week or so), and any other team with demonstrated interest in Morales, will likely wait until following next week's amateur draft, when he would no longer be subject to draft pick compensation, to sign him.
New York has reason to pursue Morales. Starting first baseman Mark Teixeira is currently dealing with wrist inflammation that has caused him to miss the past three games. While he's likely to avoid the DL, the Yankees have little insurance in case the injury worsens or causes a further decline in performance. McCann, who started at first on Wednesday, would much rather be behind the plate, and Kelly Johnson isn't exactly the ideal player to have starting everyday on a contending team.
Carlos Beltran, who has split time between the outfield and DH this season, is also dealing with injuries, as he has a bone spur in his right elbow. He's currently trying to rehab the injury, but may still face surgery, which would potentially sideline him for two months.
Morales, though limited defensively, could adequately fill in at first base in the short-term as Teixeira returns to full strength, and then shift to DH once Teixeira comes back. Of course, that does create a bit of a glut of first base/DH/corner outfield types in New York, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out. Teixeira, Beltran, Johnson, Ichiro Suzuki, and Alfonso Soriano are all currently on the roster or the disabled list. If the Yankees were to sign Morales, they would have six players for just three starting spots. Of course, that's assuming they are all healthy, and considering the age and injury history of this group, that is far from a guarantee. Johnson and Suzuki are also better served in utility roles, so it's really more like four players for three spots.
Along with the Yankees, the Rangers also appear to be a logical destination for Morales. Without Prince Fielder, the Rangers now carry a rather large hole at first base/DH (whichever one Mitch Moreland isn't playing). While they could go after a lesser name (such as Washington's Tyler Moore), Texas would be much better served signing Morales if they want to remain competitive this season.
Rosenthal also mentions the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners as interested parties. However, the Brewers, without the designated hitter option, would probably prefer a more defensively-inclined first baseman, and the Mariners may be capped out financially.
Morales, who turns 31 next month, hit .277/.336/.449 with a 123 OPS+, 23 home runs, and a 2.8 WAR in 156 games for the Mariners last season. Despite his clear offensive prowess, Morales' market never really picked up this offseason, mostly due to the draft pick compensation that greatly hindered his value, as well as his less than stellar defense. At this point, it's highly unlikely that he signs anything more than a one-year deal. Just over a week ago, the Boston Red Sox signed free agent shortstop Stephen Drew to a one-year deal worth the prorated amount ($10.2 million) of the $14.1 million qualifying offer he had turned down in November. That deal would probably represent Morales' best-case scenario since Drew is the superior player, and there just aren't too many teams in need of a defensively homeless power-hitter.