ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – All those teams who were hoping to add Kendrys Morales to their lineups for the final four months of the season — cough, cough Mariners — will have to look elsewhere.
The full-time designated hitter and once-a-week first baseman is finally off the market. On Saturday, multiple outlets reported Morales had reached an agreement with the Minnesota Twins on a one-year contract for a prorated $12 million. Morales will make just under $8 million this season.
The deal isn’t official since it’s pending a physical. Even with his injury issues in the past and indifference to offseason conditioning, it seems unlikely Morales would fail the physical. He will join the Twins immediately.
“We’ve always liked the guy,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters. “We know he can hit. He’s always been able to hit. A run producer. We all know he’s out there, and we all know everybody is trying to talk to him. Hopefully he comes our way. That would be wonderful.”
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The Twins need a designated hitter after Chris Colabello was sent to the minor leagues. Colabello had a sizzling April, batting .295 with 27 runs batted in, but hit just .125 since and struck out 24 times in 56 at-bats.
It seems like a massive letdown for Morales and a failure for agent Scott Boras. The Mariners offered Morales a three-year, $30 million extension toward the end of last season. Boras, who rarely has his players agree to extensions, turned it down. The Mariners then made a free-agent qualifying offer to Morales of one year, $14.1 million, which was also turned down. There are reports after that Seattle then offered a two-year, $20 million offer to Morales, which was also met with a “no.”
Unfortunately that’s what a lot of teams said to Morales in the offseason despite hitting .275 with 23 homers and 80 RBI last season. Because he turned down a qualifying offer from the Mariners, any team signing him would have to give up its first-round pick of the 2014 draft to Seattle. That caveat was lifted once the 2014 draft began Thursday. It’s no surprise that Morales agreed to a deal just two days later.
The Mariners, Rangers and Brewers, who were also reportedly interested, will try the trade market to find hitting help.
K is for Kluber
Who is the best pitcher no one has heard of in the American League? The honor might go to Indians right-hander Corey Kluber.
The 28-year-old Texas native put together a stellar month of May, going 4-0 with a 2.09 earned-run average. In 43 innings pitched, he struck out 60 and issued just seven unintentional walks.
It’s the most strikeouts in the month of May since Curt Schilling struck out 62 in 2002 for Arizona.
The last time an Indians pitcher struck out 60 hitters in a month? That honor belonged to Dennis Eckersley, who struck out 60 in September 1976.
“His stuff is so dominant, and it’s not just stuff, it’s location,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “When he comes in, he comes in hard. That’s really impressive. He throws to both sides of the plate, with power and with late movement. The ball gets two feet from the plate, and it goes both ways.”
Kluber is 6-3 overall, with a 3.23 ERA on the season and working toward earning a trip to the All-Star Game.
“Consistency,” he said. “That’s always been my goal, to be consistent from start to start.”
Around the league
• On Wednesday, Los Angeles Angels starter Garrett Richards rolled through the second inning in brilliant and domination fashion against the Houston Astros. Richard struck out Jon Singleton (swinging), Matt Dominguez (looking) and Chris Carter (swinging) on a total of nine pitches.
He became fourth major-league pitcher this season and the 74th since 1876 to strike out the side on nine pitches in a regular-season game. Richards continued the domination throughout the start, pitching eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out nine. Of his 107 pitches thrown, 80 were strikes.
Richard is 5-2 with a 3.25 ERA in 12 starts for the Angels.
• With hard-throwing reliever Alexi Ogando being shut down and placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation, the Rangers have used the disabled list 18 times this season, most in the majors.
• The Cardinals lead the majors in games called for rain and rain delays this season, enduring eight canceled games and nine rain delays totaling 11 hours, 22 minutes. Starter Michael Wacha has had 6 hours, 30 minutes of rain interruptions in his starts — most of the starters on the team.
• Former Mariner and Walla Walla native Eric O’Flaherty is inching closer to returning to the big leagues for the Oakland A’s. O’Flaherty threw one scoreless inning — striking out the side — for Class A Stockton in his first rehab outing. O’Flaherty is recovering from season-ending Tommy John surgery in May 2013. He signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the A’s despite the injury.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373
On Twitter: @RyanDivish