The Twins have signed one veteran designated hitter, and released another to make room for him.
Kendrys Morales passed his physical and formally agreed to a one-year contract with the Twins, the team announced Sunday morning. The former Angel and Mariners slugger will be placed on the active roster immediately, taking the place of Jason Kubel, who was designated for assignment.
"Why not us?" general manager Terry Ryan asked rhetorically in explaining the Twins' pursuit of another bat for the lineup, an uncharacteristic move for the usually conservative club. "Why not the Twins? I read there were probably a handful of clubs that were chasing Kendrys. We were ahead of many of those clubs in the standings. I don't know why we couldn't reach out to him and see if we could bring in a quality player."
Morales, stuck in free-agent limbo all winter because teams were reluctant to sacrifice a draft pick to sign him, has not played since Sept. 29, going 0-for-3 in his final game as a Mariner. When the draft took place this week and removed that penalty, Morales chose the Twins, who open the day five games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central, over four other suiters, according to published reports. He signed a one-year contract for a prorated salary of $12 million, or just over $7.5 million, in order to play this season, restore his value, and return to the free-agent market this winter.
Morales has been working out at the Boras Sports Institute in Florida, and was placed on the 25-man roster immediately by the Twins, and will be available today. Because he is out of options, he cannot be sent to the minors to work his way into shape.
That shouldn't be a problem, though, Morales said. He's been working out six days a week, taking ground balls, hitting in the batting cage and doing conditioning drills. "It may take five days, it may take seven days, it may take 10 days," Morales said through an interpreter, bullpen coach Bobby Cuellar. "I'll let you know when I'm ready to play."
Morales reportedly could have signed with the Orioles, Rangers or Yankees, but chose Minnesota, he said, because "[I've] always liked coming here -- this is a beautiful city, clean. [I] likes the ballpark, [I like] the atmosphere here. [I'm] here to help this team win some baseball games."
Kubel, who returned to the Twins after two seasons with Arizona and Cleveland, batted .288 with six doubles and a home run in April, but his play deteriorated quickly after that. He was mired in a deep slump, without an extra-base hit since April 25; he batted .143 with 37 strikeouts in 84 at-bats since then.
"That was a difficult meeting," Ryan said of having to inform Kubel that he was being released. "We talked, thanked him for his contributions over the years to this organization. We tried, but it just wasn't working out."