The Seattle Mariners have traded left-hander Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels for designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales the team confirmed this afternoon.
Morales and Vargas are both arbitration eligible for the final time in 2013 and the teams quickly came to a deal, with the Angels reportedly in search of a "workhorse starter" and the M's in need of offense in all of its forms.
Morales, 29, is a switch-hitter who hit .273/.320/.467 with 22 home runs in 134 games for the Angels last year. He has posted an OPS of .857 -- highlighted by his 34 home run, 108 RBI season in 2009 in which he ranked 2nd in the AL in SLG (.569) and 3rd in extra base hits (79) -- since becoming a full-time starter for LA at the start of the 2009 season after the club let Mark Teixeira leave via free agency. That stretch has only seen him play 337 games over the past four seasons, however, as he suffered a major ankle/Achilles injury after hitting a walk-off grand slam on May 29, 2010 off of the Mariners' Brandon League in a 5-1 Angels comeback win.
The Mariners have been attempting to add offense, but were snubbed for Los Angeles by the top free agent hitter, Josh Hamilton, just last week. With Morales' addition, the Mariners sound happy. "We have been focused on adding offense this off-season, and feel that Kendrys will be a middle-of-the-order bat for us. He’s a switch-hitter with power who has played, and hit, in the AL West," Zduriencik said.
Morales is a career .292/.346/.558 hitter in 34 games at Safeco Field and has hit three home runs in Safeco in 13 games over the past two seasons. Kendrys always hit the Mariners well, with a .283/.336/.547 mark that features 30 extra base hits, including 13 home runs, in 62 career games versus Seattle. "He's familiar with the teams and parks and is a proven run-producer," Zduriencik said. "We hate to part with Jason, and really appreciate everything he's done for us, but we are in a situation where we had to give up talent to acquire talent."
The loss of Vargas leaves the Mariners a little short on the pitching front, but there are still a few interesting names available via free agency on the pitching front. To go along with that, the attraction of pitchers coming to Seattle has always been greater than the draw for hitters. With the move the Mariners 40-man roster remains full at 40.