LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The pending acquisitions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison would appear to close the door on the return of Kendrys Morales as the Mariners reshape their roster for next season.
Morales led Seattle in 2013 with a .277 batting average and 80 RBIs while hitting 23 home runs, but turned down the club's $14.1 million qualifying offer and now is exploring options on the free-agent market.
Since the right-handed Hart and left-handed Morrison will likely split time between designated hitter and the outfield and the Mariners still project Justin Smoak as their primary first baseman, it's hard to see how the switch-hitting Morales would fit.
Agent Scott Boras is trying to find a landing spot for Morales, who will cost any team that signs him a first-round Draft pick due to the qualifying offer. Seattle would receive the first compensatory pick after the first round if Morales signs with another club.
Boras isn't ready to blame that Draft-pick penalty as creating a problem for Morales' market and is telling teams that his client's numbers will increase once he leaves Seattle's Safeco Field.
"First of all, it's way too young to tell because free agency works in pockets," Boras said Wednesday. "The value of the home run hitter, the value of a leader, he's a guy that's hit 30-some home runs and 100 RBIs [in 2009 with the Angels]. He's done very, very well.
"He's Adrian Beltre-like in Seattle," said Boras. "When you look at all those things and you value it, you've got to understand that these players are something that really, really give a franchise something very different than what's available."
The Mariners also appear unlikely to bring back Raul Ibanez, who was released after hitting 29 home runs and batting .242 with 65 RBIs at age 41. Ibanez, who hit just .203 with five home runs and nine RBIs in 177 at-bats after the All-Star break, is believed to be drawing interest from the Angels as well as other teams.
Mariners' Kearns earns Scout of Year honor
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Bill Kearns, a member of the Mariners organization since its inception in 1977, was honored as one of the Major League's top scouts on Wednesday during a banquet at baseball's Winter Meetings at Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.
Kearns, 92, was honored along with Bill Bryk and Howard McCullough of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Doug Mapson of the Giants as 2013 Scout of the Year award winners.
The annual award, now in its 30th year, was created to acknowledge baseball scouts that have devoted at least a quarter of a century to the profession. All recipients are also honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., in the Diamond Mines exhibit.
Kearns, who served in the Navy during World War II, played four years of Minor League baseball in the Dodgers system before finishing his college degree. After a brief stint as a player/manager in Canada, Kearns signed as a part time scout with the Brooklyn Dodgers and eventually landed full-time jobs with the White Sox and Royals before Mariners general manager Lou Gorman hired him in 1976.
He continues to actively scout and typically attends 200-plus games a year as well as Spring Training.