During this past off-season, several writers (myself included) ranted and raved about how free agent first baseman Kendrys Morales would be a perfect fit in the Bronx, providing depth at both first base and designated hitter. I even went so far as to recommend the signing happen when starter Mark Teixeira went down with a hamstring injury, and it appeared that he would be battling injuries all season long. Recently, our friends over at It’s About The Money suggested that the team now sign Morales because of the impending loss of outfielder Carlos Beltran due to a bone spur in his elbow.
This is where my position changes. Morales no longer fits what the Yankees need at this point in time. If Teixeira were hurt long term, I’d say “Absolutely, sign him now”, but that’s not the case. Not only do the Yankees have a viable candidate at Triple-A (Kyle Roller) who is cheaper, younger, and better defensively than Morales, but the LAST thing the Yankees need at this point is another immobile hitter clogging up the DH slot in the lineup that has been set aside for aging and oft-injured stars like Derek Jeter, Teixeira, and Alfonso Soriano.
If the Yankees were to sign Morales, the question has to be asked: “Where does he go once Beltran returns?” Some estimate that Beltran could miss up to 12 weeks if he were to elect to have the bone spur removed. What if he returns in 8 weeks? What if he holds off and tests his pain threshold? If the Yankees signed Morales now, they’d lose another draft pick. If they wait until after the upcoming draft, they lose cash. I don’t see Morales willingly signing a contract knowing that the pine awaits him a few days per week. Too many teams need what he can bring with the stick to settle for a role position. He’s already cost himself millions, and he’s not going to give away playing time as well.
If Carlos Beltran elects surgery and returns, he will no doubt become a part of the DH-carousel, thus giving Morales even less at-bats. The way Teixeira is hitting for power once again, you’re not sitting him. The best move the Yankees can make at this point, is to go all-in on Cuban outfield prospect Daniel Carbonell. I recently touched on this topic earlier in the week, and I continue to stand by my points.
The thought that Ichiro Suzuki, Zoilo Almonte, and Soriano can’t handle one outfield spot until either Carbonell were ready for a promotion or Beltran returned to service has to be questioned. We’re not talking a season-ending injury. Sure, Beltran is 37-years-old, but Soriano will heat up, and Ichiro and Almonte in short spurts are more than serviceable. The Yankees have much bigger issues without adding to them by signing a one-dimensional bat. If they weren’t willing to sign Stephen Drew, Morales is nothing more than wishful thinking.
The team remains competitive, although the offense has yet to click as a unit. The loss of Beltran is not going to help that situation improve. Brian McCann won’t be this bad all season. Yangervis Solarte has been a nice surprise, Jacoby Ellsbury will snap out of his current funk. The Yankees can improve other areas of the lineup much sooner than signing someone like Kendrys Morales.
But instead of signing someone, possibly losing a draft pick, and adding yet another DH to the mix, spend that money and more, by signing a young, switch-hitting, five-tool player that will complete the last third of the Yankees’ outfield–one that could be together for at least the next half decade. Beltran upon his return will need plenty of rest, and will undoubtedly struggle in the outfield. He will become another member of the DH club, and once Jeter retires, Soriano leaves via free agency, Beltran can become the full-time DH. Long term problem solved.