The Red Sox have “reached out” to free agent Kendrys Morales according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
I...don’t really get it.
Kendrys Morales is not a bad hitter. He’s had a wRC+ of at least 110 in four of the last five seasons, even if he’s never quite made his way back to the levels he was at in 2009 and 2010 before his big injury with the Angels. But he also only ever eclipsed 120 in 2015, with that number going back down to exactly 110 last year. He put up big home run totals for the Royals, but struggled to produce in any other way resulting in a mediocre OBP and frankly underwhelming SLG figure when you consider that he went deep 30 times.
The problems with Morales are largely the same as the problems with Beltran. While he doesn’t have Beltran’s major age issue, perhaps making him a more reliable option, it’s just a question of what he really brings to the table. While before his injury he was very good from the left side of the plate, he’s only been particularly good as a righty in the years since. He hit to just a .730 OPS against right-handed pitchers last year, which is not that far removed from the .754 OPS he managed against them in the three years beforehand. If it’s not quite the problem it’s made out to be that the Sox are so right-handed heavy, the presence of Chris Young does make any right-handed DH candidate somewhat redundant. Even if you don’t give Young much credit for his excellent 2016, he was still hitting to a .874 OPS against lefties from 2013 to 2015, and the Red Sox’ outfield doesn’t necessarily need a platoon bat given Bradley’s glove and the very real possibility that Benintendi will be just fine against southpaws.
The splurge option—at least in free agency—is obviously Edwin Encarnacion. There’s also trade options that could be out there like Joey Votto who are obviously far more attractive in terms of actual talent and production. You don’t have to support that sort of huge blockbuster to fill the hole at DH, but there shouldn’t be any default choice that guys like Beltran and Morales fall into if they just don’t bring anything to the team. It’s entirely likely that the Red Sox would be better off rotating players through the position and using their roster spot on someone who can do more than just one thing. Hell, they might well be better off with an extra reliever, cutting the bench short.
The point is not to go with the overwhelming option. But if you’re going the underwhelming route, at least find someone who can maybe hit right-handed pitchers to help balance things out and work well with Chris Young. They need to bring something to the table that current Red Sox players—particularly those who don’t project to make the starting lineup—don’t. Otherwise, what are they doing here?