After three consecutive years of 90-plus losses, Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan is hoping a rare in-season, free-agent signing will keep his team in contention the rest of the summer.
Minnesota signed first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales to a one-year, prorated, $12 million contract on Sunday. The Cuban-born slugger, who hit .277 with 23 homers and 80 RBIs in 156 games with the Seattle Mariners last season, has been in Miami working out while waiting to sign.
“Why not the Twins?” Ryan asked during a press conference announcing the signing. “I read there were probably a handful of clubs that were chasing Kendrys. We were ahead of many of those clubs in the standings.”
The Twins have lost 291 games the last three seasons, but are 29-31 this year, five games back in the A.L. Central and 2 1/2 back in the wild-card standings.
Morales, who turns 31 on June 20, had been unsigned because teams were hesitant to surrender a compensatory first-round pick to sign him. Since the Twins signed him after the MLB draft, they do not have to give up a coveted pick.
The prorated portion of Morales’ contract will total slightly more than $7.4 million.
For Morales, the deal gives him an opportunity to provide some power to an inconsistent Twins offense in desperate need of a full-time designated hitter.
In 620 career games, Morales has 102 home runs and 345 RBIs.
Since Morales is out of options and not injured, the Twins can’t send him to the minors to shake off the rust from missing the season’s first 60 games. He’ll work out with the team and take the field when he’s ready.
“It’s a good signing. A lot of us are real excited right now,” Joe Mauer said.
To make room on the 25-man roster, Minnesota released outfielder Jason Kubel, who appeared in 798 games over parts of eight seasons with the Twins.
Texas’ Moreland out
Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland will miss about three months to have surgery on a left ankle that’s been bothering him all season, the club said Sunday.
Moreland has tried injections and other remedies but hasn’t been able to get rid of persistent pain in the ankle.
The 28-year-old Moreland had to take over at first when Prince Fielder was sidelined for the season to have neck surgery.
Moreland is hitting .246 with two home runs and 23 RBIs.