Since the existence of the Kansas City Royals in 1969, the organization has only had 11 players hit 30 home runs in a season. This is quite the accomplishment, considering that there have been 14 perfect games and seven unassisted triple plays during that time span. The Royals biggest power threat throughout the past two years has come in the form of DH Kendrys Morales. General manager Dayton Moore signed him to a two-year contract back in the 2014-2015 offseason.
Royals Case for a Kendrys Morales Qualifying Offer
Kendrys Morales enjoyed a spectacular season in 2015. He played a huge part in the World Series victory and garnered national attention because of his performance. Morales put up a .290/.362/.485 batting line and drove in 106 runs. Expectations were certainly high for Morales entering the 2016 season.
Morales is the most recent player to hit 30 home runs for the Royals, and the first to do so since Jermaine Dye in 2000. The designated hitter struggled over the first two months of the season, posting a .193/.262/.330 line with six home runs before entering June. It was looking like Morales may not be in the Royals plans after this year.
The month of June would prove costly for the team, but not the beloved slugger. In just 24 games and 87 at-bats, Morales doubled seven times, hit five homers, and drove in 18 runs. He also posted an OPS greater than 1.100. His final batting line for the month of June was an astonishing .402/.453/.655. His .302/.366/.546 batting line since the first of June, to go along with his 24 home runs, is the type of production that the team so desperately needs.
This begs the question: what should the Royals do with the Kendrys Morales situation? The Royals are supposedly considering extending a qualifying offer on their designated hitter, making him a one-year offer worth $16.7 Million. That would be the highest contract ever given to a designated hitter. Morales is likely to be the cheapest left-handed power bat on the free-agent market. He is also likely to stay in Kansas City, given that he’s enjoyed a nice two-year run with the Royals. Besides, the Royals aren’t likely to find a better fit in an almost 40-year old Carlos Beltran or an aging Ryan Howard, Edwin Encarnacion, and Mark Trumbo, who appear to be out of reach as well.
On the other hand, this is the first season that Morales has hit 30 home runs since 2009. At 34 years old next season, it is highly doubtful that he would be able to top his performance this year. The Royals could use that money to fill several other holes on the roster. Their pitching staff has been disastrous on multiple levels, and the Royals could desperately use another starter to help bolster the rotation. That money could be better spent elsewhere in 2017.
The problem is that a one-year, $16.7 million qualifying offer might be an overpay for 2017. The front office will have to balance that risk against another two-year deal for a player that will be 34 and 35 over his next two seasons. Kansas City holds an $11 million mutual option for 2017, but it’s doubtful Morales will pick up his end of that deal. His last two seasons have earned him a better payday.