LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Angels could use a designated hitter, particularly one that bats left-handed and could spell Albert Pujols at first base.
Kendrys Morales, who played the first six years of his career in Anaheim, would appear to be a perfect fit. The Angels say they are not interested, because they need to rebuild a depleted minor league system, and they would have to forfeit their first-round draft choice to sign Morales.
"We're much more comfortable with the idea of maintaining our first-round pick and continuing to build the organization in a much more positive way," General Manager Jerry Dipoto said Wednesday.
The Angels appear to be much more interested in Raul Ibanez, 41, who batted .242 with 29 home runs and a .793 OPS for the Seattle Mariners last season. Ibanez bats left-handed, and the Angels would not need to surrender a draft pick to sign him.
"You have a chance to get leadership, power, switch hitting," said Scott Boras, the agent for Morales. "The Angel ownership has been about great players. They’ve really been about doing the best they can do to make their team competitive. I think that team should continue.
"That theme works in Orange County. They’ve got a very successful television contract. The vendors they negotiated with expect that from them. So I expect them to be true to course – and, that is, very aggressive about what is best for their team."
The market for Morales is limited because even Boras acknowledges his best position is designated hitter. That rules out the National League and much of the American League because teams increasingly prefer the flexibility to mix several players in that role to a high-salaried, one-dimensional player such as David Ortiz.
"It’s a very unique position," Boras said. "If you want to get an advantage at it, you get one of those guys that is really skilled at it. Kendrys is one of those two or three guys in the big leagues that has put up those numbers and has managed it from the DH spot."
Boras suggested the Angels would be smarter to sign Morales to a long-term contract than to protect their first-round selection. The Angels have the 15th pick.
"I think you rebuild the farm system with, maybe, top-10 picks," Boras said. "But, when you look at the numbers outside the top 10, your chances of getting a six-year major leaguer are about 18% and your chances of getting an All-Star player are about 3%.
"Getting a substantial player, particularly one that is in his 30s, where you have use of him for five years or so -- it’s hard to suggest a draft pick would mean more than the value of that player."
It was impossible to immediately verify Boras' statistics. But a 20-year review of players selected with the No. 15 pick -- from 1990 to 2009 -- made clear the Angels would be less likely to hit than miss with their selection.
Of the 20 players selected, pitcher Chris Carpenter and second baseman Chase Utley developed into stars. Infielder Stephen Drew and pitcher Scott Kazmir turned into solid major leaguers. However, of the other 16 players, six did not make the majors and one had a career WAR above 1.0.
However, as teams increasingly value draft choices, Boras is in a challenging spot because two of his clients, Drew and Morales, denied the qualifying offers required for a team to get draft-choice compensation.
Morales in particular could be in trouble because the Mariners essentially replaced him Wednesday by acquiring Corey Hart and Logan Morrison. Yet, Boras scoffed at the notion he might not be able to beat the one-year, $14.1-million contract available to any player accepting a qualifying offer.
"I don’t worry about qualifying offers," Boras said. "These are young players. These are not players that are in their mid-30s."
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