HOUSTON – Kendrys Morales has let the Mariners know he’d be open to returning to the team next season.
But his agent, Scott Boras, said Saturday that he doesn’t expect any serious talks to begin until after the season ends. The Mariners would have an exclusive window to negotiate with Morales – one of the benefits to having not traded him ahead of the July and August deadlines – before he’d be eligible to hit the free-agent market.
“We haven’t decided on free agency yet,’’ Boras said. “There’s a lot to consider before that.’’
Boras said he was approached by general manager Jack Zduriencik ahead of the July 31 trade deadline and was told the Mariners were interested in retaining Morales beyond this season. Boras mentioned what type of deal he’d be looking for and the Mariners did not come back with a formal offer.
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But Zduriencik asked Boras to gauge whether Morales would be interested in returning. Boras said he asked his client and was told by Morales that he would consider a return if the deal was right.
Even if Morales ultimately rejects a long-term deal with the Mariners, they could still make him a qualifying offer for 2014. That would mean paying him about $14 million next season if he accepts, or getting a compensatory draft pick if he leaves.
Boras could then explore the free-agent market for Morales, knowing he has roughly $14 million for the 2014 season as a fallback option. If he does take Morales to free agency, Boras did say he’ll try to market Morales as being able to improve upon his offensive numbers at a different home park other than Safeco Field.
•Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen will be among the September call-ups added by the Mariners in coming days as the Class AAA season ends. Wilhelmsen has an earned-run average of 10.50 in eight outings for Class AAA Tacoma as of Saturday, giving up 19 hits and five walks in 12 innings.
“I want to get him back up here and just see where he’s at,’’ Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “I mean, it (the numbers) is not always indicative of what you’re seeing down there.’’
• Kyle Seager on Saturday started in an 88th consecutive game as the Mariners’ third baseman.
That is a team record, having eclipsed the 86 in a row by Adrian Beltre from August 2005 until May 2006.
Seager has started at third base in every Seattle game since May 24.