By Shannon Drayer
The Mariners have announced they have traded Jason Vargas to the Angels for Kendrys Morales. Add one bat to the lineup, subtract one pitcher.
Both players exchanged were in their final year of arbitration eligibility, with Morales earning $2.97 million in 2012 and Vargas $4.85 million. There is a chance the Mariners could end up with more dollars to spend after this deal.
Of immediate interest is where he will play. He got the bulk of his at-bats last year as the DH but did have 28 games at first. Obviously he was bumped by a guy named Pujols, but my question would be how much he could be played in the field with his ankle issues. I am assuming that he will get most of his at-bats as the DH with the Mariners.
Regardless, this move gives Justin Smoak a heck of a wakeup call. It also makes the catching situation interesting. Last week I asked Eric Wedge on the "Hot Stove League Show" who would catch the majority of the games in 2013 and he answered that he hoped it would be Jesus Montero. It looks like he may need to now. Then what happens when Mike Zunino is called up? Well, we shall see.
If Morales needs to play primarily at DH then this move also impacts John Jaso in a great way. The plan all along with Jaso and Montero was to get them work at first this spring. It looks like it would be in their best interest to show something there this spring.
We should have more answers soon as Jack Zduriencik will talk with reporters. In the press release Eric Wedge said, "Kendrys gives us a veteran presence and a proven, middle-of-the order bat, with power from both sides of the plate. Adding him to our lineup immediately makes us a better offensive club."