It was shaping up to be a rather quiet Winter Meeting for the Royals, until they found a replacement for Billy Butler. They signed free agent Kendrys Morales to a 2 year, $17 million deal, including a mutual option for a third year.
Morales spent the 2014 season with Minnesota and Seattle, playing in just 98 games as a DH. He managed a .218/.274/.318 hitting line, with 8 homers. The Royals supposedly want to use a rotating DH next year, but Morales seems like more of a permanent DH.
The Royals are also looking for a little more pop on offense, as they ranked dead last in home runs this year. Morales has the potential to help in that department, if the Royals can restore him.
Morales is 31, and looks to be past his prime. He spent six years in Anaheim, tallying up 79 homers as an Angel. His two best seasons in terms of home runs were 2009 and 2013, with 34 and 23, respectively.
Billy Butler has more consistent numbers in the home run department, while Morales’ production seems to be either boom or bust. However, Morales’ numbers are significantly higher in the boom years.
Butler had a down year this season with just 9 home runs, but his overall hitting was decent with a .271/.323./.449 line. The highlight of the season for Butler was in the playoffs, when he capped off his final season as a Royal with some memorable moments, including a stolen base against the Angels in the ALDS, his first since 2011.
The one statistic that is worth taking a look at is GIDP. Royals fans have complained for years about Butler’s tendency to hit into double plays, which is probably warranted. Butler likes ground balls, but he hasn’t always been able to hit them through the holes in the infield.
Compared to Butler, Morales is much better at not hitting into double plays. Butler has hit into 168 double plays in his career, over twice the amount Morales has, 83. Butler hit into 21 this year which wasn’t a lot, but they usually came at the most inopportune times for the Royals. The most Morales has ever hit into in a single season was 21 in 2013, compared to Butler’s 32 in 2010.
The Royals need to fill three holes in the offseason, and Morales fills one of them. The two remaining holes are RF and SP, and there are plenty of options left for the Royals. A Melky Cabrera return is possible, and probably the one with the highest probability. James Shields has yet to be signed by another team, but I don’t think the Royals are willing to fork out the money he wants. Unfortunately for him, no other team is, either.
I expect the Royals to make some big moves this offseason, and if they want to be a contender next year again, they are definitely going to have to. The Kendrys Morales signing might not have been the sexiest move, but it certainly was a smart one.
Check back tomorrow for a preview of the Chiefs game against Oakland. It should be a fun one.