Twins save more than $4 million, get Stephen Pryor for Kendrys Morales
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
The Twins traded Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, in exchange for minor league reliever Stephen Pryor. The Twins had signed Morales in early June for a prorated $12 million contract after the draft compensation tied to his signing vanished with the onset of the first-year player draft. He was set to earn roughly $7.5 million from the Twins, and now the Mariners, who seemed to be in need of a bat, will be responsible for the balance of that salary.
His salary is roughly $4.3 million the remainder of the season, meaning the Twins spent a little more than $3 million for 39 games of Morales and the right to trade him for a relief prospect. Clearly, his signing didn't work out the way they intended but they seem to have made a good move out of a bad situation.
Morales played last season for Seattle and rejected a qualifying offer during the offseason, allowing him to become a free agent, but he struggled to find a job in large part because of the draft compensation any signing team would need to offer up in exchange for the right to sign him.
The switch hitter was in the starting lineup the day after he signed with Minnesota, surprising many, including Twins general manager Terry Ryan. With Joe Mauer's oblique injury, Morales had been playing a lot of first base and batting in the middle of the lineup.
He got off to a hot start initially, but in 162 total plate appearances with the Twins, Morales hit .234/.259/.325 with one home run, 18 RBIs and a 27:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He wasn't helping the Twins much and didn't appear to be part of the long-term plan. For that reason, it's fair to contend he actually was hurting the Twins by taking plate appearances from other players who could be getting a tryout for the future.
Additional reading: Morales beat up on the Mariners in a series in Seattle two weeks ago.
The Morales signing surprised me at the time because it would have taken a lot of good breaks for the Twins to contend for a Wild Card spot in the American League. Instead, they've had several bad breaks and have spiraled out of contention. The Morales trade, then, is probably the first of several moves designed to improve future Twins lineups.
Pryor, who turned 25 on Wednesday, had a reputation as a hard-throwing right-handed reliever. He was drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 draft, and had surgery to repair a torn latissimus dorsi (back/side) in August 2013 and made just one big league appearance this year. In that five-out appearance (against the Twins) earlier this month, his fastball velocity averaged between 91 and 92 mph.
In 2012, he pitched mostly in Double- and Triple-A in the Mariners system. He struck out 44 batters compared to 16 walks in 36 innings across the two levels that year. He also pitched 23 innings in the Majors that season, with a 27:13 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The surgery mostly wiped out his 2013 season; he didn't even pitch a dozen innings during the regular season that year.
This season he has a 30:21 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 33 2/3 innings between Double- and Triple-A.
In his career Pryor has 35 strikeouts and 16 walks in 32 innings in the Majors in parts of three seasons. He'll report to Triple-A Rochester, according to the Twins. Ryan Pressly was recently promoted from the Red Wings bullpen to Minnesota when the Twins DFA'd Matt Guerrier.