By Brady Henderson
The Mariners want to bring back Kendrys Morales and the veteran slugger wants to return. The price just has to be right.
That was the word from general manager Jack Zduriencik, who told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" on Tuesday that the Mariners will make Morales a qualifying offer with the hope of keeping the 30-year-old designated hitter in Seattle at least through next season.
Kendrys Morales was arguably Seattle's best hitter in 2013, leading the team with a .277 batting average and 80 RBIs. (AP)
"But I know Kendrys likes it here. I think he would like to come back here – he made that very clear to me. But we just have to see where we end up at. I want to do something but I don't want to do something foolish just to do it."
Morales, acquired in a trade with the Angels last offseason, led the Mariners in average (.277), RBIs (80) and hits (167) and was second on the team with 23 home runs in 156 games. He was one of only three Mariners with more than 60 RBIs and one of three everyday players to hit .260 or above.
Zduriencik said the Mariners will "absolutely" make Morales a one-year qualifying offer, which would entitle the team to a first-round pick should he decline and sign elsewhere. Zduriencik estimated that the price for qualifying offers – which is determined by MLB based on the averages of the top salaries – will be around $13.5-14 million. He also estimated that the draft pick Seattle would receive should Morales turn down the qualifying offer would be around No. 29 overall. Signing Morales to a multi-year deal is also a possibility.
"I want to bring Kendrys Morales back here. What makes reasonable sense?" Zduriencik said. "He's a nice player, he's a piece who we haven't had and I'd like to keep that piece, but again, I'm not going to be crazy and do something that's gonna tie this franchise's hands for a number of years."
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.