Vet expected to see most time at DH; Kubel designated for assignment
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins made a statement they believe they can compete in 2014.
The Twins announced on Sunday the signing of free-agent slugger Kendrys Morales to a one-year, $12 million prorated contract worth roughly $7.6 million. The team designated outfielder Jason Kubel for assignment in a corresponding move. Kubel hit .224 with one home run and 13 RBIs in 45 games, and was mired in an 0-for-26 slump.
Morales was officially introduced at a news conference at Target Field, and he was activated and in uniform for Sunday's game against the Astros. Twins general manager Terry Ryan made the announcement in his return from battling neck cancer.
"This is a good day for the organization," Ryan said. "We brought Kendrys here to bring some pop in our lineup. There's no doubt we're trying to add some offense to this club, and Kendrys has a track record. He's played in the American League and we have at-bats to give him."
Morales, who turns 31 on June 20, was a free agent over the offseason but did not sign with a team after declining a qualifying offer from the Mariners. If another team had signed him prior to the First-Year Player Draft, it would've lost a pick. But with the Draft in the books, the Twins won't lose a pick for signing Morales.
Morales had other suitors but said he was excited about the chance to play for the Twins. Ryan said he reached out to Morales' agent, Scott Boras, about a week ago and the deal came together quickly.
"I've always liked coming here," Morales said through a translator. "It's a beautiful city and very clean. I like the ballpark and I like hitting here. I'm here to help this team win some baseball games."
The Twins wanted to add a power bat to their offense, and Morales certainly brings that.
The switch-hitter posted .277/.336/.449 slash line in 2013, with 23 homers, 34 doubles and 80 RBIs with the Mariners. He played just 31 games at first base, while serving as the designated hitter in 121 games. The Twins have Joe Mauer at first base, so Morales is again expected to see the bulk of his time at DH.
But the Twins aren't sure when Morales will be ready to play, as he's out of Minor League options and can't be sent to the Minors to shake off the rust unless they exposed him to waivers. Morales said he hopes to be fully ready within five to 10 days, and was working out six days a week in Miami to stay sharp.
"It's a day-to-day thing," Morales said. "I'm going to be working out and talking to [Twins manager Ron] Gardenhire and the coaching staff. I don't know when, but when I'm ready I'll be in there. I just want to do it the right way."
Morales, who also played with the Angels from 2006-12, is a career .280/.333/.480 hitter with 102 homers, 130 doubles and 345 RBIs in 620 games.
The Twins are excited about the potential of having Morales' bat in the middle of their order, as they've been a pleasant surprise this year -- with a 29-31 record through their first 60 games. They entered Sunday five games back of the Tigers in the AL Central with 102 games to go.
"We're certainly in the mix," Ryan said. "We've played pretty decent up to this point and have surprised some people. So why not us? We're at the point in the season where there's a lot of baseball left. So why not the Twins? I read a handful teams were after Morales, but we were ahead of a lot of those clubs in the standings. So I thought why don't we bring in a quality player who doesn't cost us a Draft pick, which we treasure here."
Second baseman Brian Dozier was happy to see the front office believes they can compete this year by adding Morales to the roster.
"I think it's good for all us to know," Dozier said. "We want to win now. We've been beat up for three years. We don't want to rebuild. We want to win. And I think we brought in a guy who can help us do that. So it's pretty cool for us to see that."
Mauer was also pleased to hear about the signing, as he believes it signals the Twins want to compete after their struggles over the last three seasons.
"I think it tells you how close this division is," Mauer said. "Us adding him is definitely a great thing. I'm excited for that."