Kendrys Morales free agency: Royals a 'sleeper team' for 1B

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Morales has not had many suitors chasing him this offseason yet, but the Royals could come into play soon.

The Kansas City Royals have emerged as a sleeper candidate to sign free agent first baseman Kendrys Morales, reports Jim Duquette of MLB.com.

At first, the Royals may seem like a strange fit for Morales with Eric Hosmer at first base and Billy Butler playing full-time at designated hitter. However, Kansas City is still seeking another starting pitcher to strengthen a rotation that currently includes James Shields, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie and Danny Duffy. Ervin Santana, who played with the team in 2013, is a free agent and likely to sign elsewhere. By signing Morales, trading Butler for a pitcher becomes more feasible.

Both Morales and Butler put up similar OPS numbers in 2013. In 156 games with the Mariners, Morales hit .277/.336/.449, good for a 785 OPS. Butler played in every game last year, hitting .289/.374/.412, equating to a 787 OPS. Butler's better on-base skills tend to make him the more valuable player as his slugging has typically been more on par with Morales.

It's hard to see the Royals as a "sleeper" team when there appears to be so little interested in Morales at this point. Teams have thus far stayed away from him due largely to the necessity of forfeiting a draft pick. Because Morales turned down a qualifying offer from the Mariners, the Royals would have to give up their first round draft pick to sign him.

Kansas City has made a few moves to revamp their team this offseason in an effort to stay in contention for a playoff spot. The team has signed both Jason Vargas and Omar Infante to multi-year deals and also acquired outfielder Norichika Aoki from the Brewers. It appears they are still willing to make another big move.

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