Free agent first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales could begin considering deals for less than the $14.1 million qualifying offer he turned down in November, but he could also decide to sit out until after the June amateur draft to sign, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.
That strategy would separate him from the draft compensation attached to him by declining the Mariners qualifying offer, and, as Olney notes, "by then, injuries will manifest and create openings that are not there now."
However, the downside of that approach would be further missed playing time for Morales, who missed more than 100 games in 2010 and the entire 2011 season due to his rather infamous ankle injury he sustained while celebrating a walkoff homer with the Angels.
Teams are more attached to their early draft picks than ever due to the slotting system put in place following the installment of the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Each pick is given a "slot recommendation" from the league and the composite of those financial suggestions forms a sort of draft budget for each team. They can spend more than their suggested allotment, but a lofty tax is levied on every dollar spent over the league-recommended amount similar to the luxury tax for payrolls. So, adding Morales before the June draft would not only cost the signing team a top prospect, but it would significantly decrease their spending budget for the draft as well.
A hitter as good as Morales -- career .280/.333/.480 batting line -- would, under normal circumstances, have little trouble finding a job, but with the current qualifying offer system in place, he could be forced to make some though decisions.