Yankees trade target: Kendrys Morales

Jason Miller

The Yankees haven't got much offense out of first base, but Kendrys Morales would provide some much-needed production.

Last week, you, the fans, voted first base as the second-biggest need for the Yankees right now. There appears to be an abundant amount of first basemen that could be had at, or before, the trade deadline. Some of those names include Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena, Justin Morneau, Michael Morse, and Logan Morrison, among others, but those guys certainly don't come without their flaws. One player who doesn't come with too many flaws, though, is Kendrys Morales.

Kendrys Morales, a career .281/.333/.485 hitter with a 118 wRC+, was traded from the Angels to the Mariners in the winter, and he has flourished. The 30-year-old switch-hitter is batting .282/.340/.455 in 335 plate appearances so far while playing his home games in pitcher-friendly SafeCo Field, which is good for a 124 wRC+. That 124 wRC+, if inserted in the Yankees' lineup, would be the second-highest on the team.

Morales has a reverse-platoon split this year (145 wRC+ in 118 PA's vs. LHP, 118 wRC+ in 217 PA's vs. RHP), which isn't the norm for him. In his career, Morales has hit righties pretty well (125 wRC+) while being a shade below league-average against lefties (98 wRC+). One of the Yankees' troubles this season has been their inability to hit left-handers; their 76 wRC+ is the third worst in Major League Baseball. If Morales continues to hit lefties this year, he would be a much-needed boost for the Yankees against southpaws.

A problem with Morales is what to do with him defensively. He has played a grand total of 52 games at first base the last two years since returning from his devastating ankle injury suffered in 2010. They may have to keep Lyle Overbay around and use him for a late-inning defensive replacement if they make a trade. Morales would also figure to get some DH at-bats as well.

Brian Cashman and Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik have a recent trade history. This goes back to the Shawn Kelley-Abraham Almonte trade last winter, the Ichiro Suzuki trade last summer, and the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero blockbuster six months before that. Maybe something between a "B" and "C" prospect and another filler would suffice. At the same time, Morales is one of the best (the best?) hitters the Mariners have to offer, and with approximately $1.7MM left on his deal, it'll certainly take more than just table scraps to acquire his services.

Throughout the course of the season, especially the last couple of months, the Yankees haven't gotten much production from first base. Mark Teixeira missing the rest of the season certainly doesn't help matters and Lyle Overbay is hitting .217/.260/.357 in his last 43 games. First base is an offense-first position, so getting some actual production out of that position would be nice, and Morales has what it takes to do just that.

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