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Why no one wants to trade for Kendrys Morales

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The market is soft for the Cuban slugger.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals are in sell mode and could stand to trade off all their short-term assets to provide for 2017 and beyond. One impending free agent that they should be offering to teams is designated hitter Kendrys Morales. The 33-year old slugger got off to a disastrous start this year, but went red-hot in the month of June, hitting .402/.453/.655 with five home runs. Despite his turnaround, Morales has not been a name that has popped up in trade rumors at all.

Why is that?

Well, the trade market for designated hitters is very limited. Half of the teams don't use a designated hitter by virtue of playing in the inferior National League. True, Kendrys is capable of playing a passable first base, but would a team feel comfortable having him play out there on a semi-regular basis?

The teams that are in contention in the American League have gotten pretty good production from the DH position. Here is production from the DH position for every team:

PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG
BOS 438 28 96 .332 .416 .665
SEA 398 21 67 .281 .364 .499
TOR 405 23 69 .247 .346 .503
MIN 416 13 42 .272 .364 .452
BAL 397 25 58 .248 .307 .496
CLE 409 19 53 .227 .340 .449
DET 415 16 62 .277 .328 .445
LAA 412 17 73 .247 .316 .423
NYY 398 17 54 .246 .291 .434
CHW 390 10 46 .245 .331 .379
TBR 379 16 42 .225 .280 .425
KCR 388 11 47 .242 .307 .385
TEX 419 10 52 .224 .308 .352
OAK 391 11 40 .218 .269 .367
HOU 400 11 41 .183 .276 .322
TOT 6055 248 842 .248 .324 .441

The two contenders in most need of a DH are Texas and Houston. The Rangers got awful production from aging slugger Prince Fielder before he went out for the year with a back injury, but they seem content to hand the position to hard-hitting Joey Gallo, one of the best hitting prospects in baseball. Houston has tried a mix of different players at DH, including Evan Gattis, A.J. Reed, Tyler White, Preston Tucker, and recently called up third baseman Alex Bregman, one of the top prospects in baseball. They may be content to see what the young hitters can do, but with utility infielder Marwin Gonzalez manning first base, they probably make the most sense for a landing spot for Kendrys Morales.

Even then, having just one real suitor will depress the price for Morales. And they may not be wild about him after his slash gesture mocking pitcher Lance McCullers last fall. The fact that Kendrys Morales hasn't been very good since his red-hot month doesn't help. In the month of July, Kendrys is hitting just .207/.293/.415, and he is just 2 for his last 18. That kind of inconsistency will scare a lot of contenders looking for a reliable bat they can depend upon in October.

Washington and Miami are two National League contenders that could use some production at first base, so perhaps Kendrys would have some value to them as a semi-regular/bat off the bench. But the Royals should not expect much of a haul for that kind of player - remember what they paid for a similar player in Josh Willingham back in 2014.

Kendrys is the kind of player that could clear waivers in August, making his eligible to be traded, so if Texas or Houston or another team is dissatisfied with their DH situation or an injury pops up, don’t be surprised if Kendrys moves then.  But until then, the Royals may find a pretty soft market for Kendrys Morales.