New-look Angels will offer contract to Morales
Recovering slugger could offer lineup protection for Pujols
ANAHEIM -- The Angels will indeed tender Kendrys Morales a contract prior to Monday's deadline, general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed during Saturday's introductory press conference for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
Sometimes -- though rarely -- players aren't tendered contracts by their teams because they don't think they're worth the raises they receive during their arbitration years. Morales' inactivity the last 1 1/2 seasons made him appear to be a non-tender candidate, but Dipoto said the Angels "absolutely expect to tender Kendrys Morales."
After finishing fifth in voting for the American League's Most Valuable Player Award in 2009, Morales missed nearly two full seasons after sustaining a broken lower left leg. A lot is still unknown about Morales' status for 2012, regarding his health -- he'll still need to prove he can run at full speed in Spring Training -- and whether or not he'll remain with the team.
But the Angels will at least keep their options open.
And when asked about plans for a cleanup hitter behind Pujols, manager Mike Scioscia went directly to his switch-hitter, who's entering his second year of arbitration after making $2.975 million in '11.
"The one thing that sets us up really well is if Kendrys Morales is coming back; just his presence, being from the left side," Scioscia said. "Right now, a player like Albert, there's really only one way to protect him. One is get guys on base in front of him, and the other is have some depth behind him that will take advantage when they walk him, or he gets on base a lot, too. So I think we're going to get guys in front that, hopefully, are not going to set the table, but be able to run and get in scoring position and do things that you want for the middle of your lineup."
Pujols' acquisition creates a logjam at first base, where Morales and Mark Trumbo also reside, and leaves a lot of questions as to how Dipoto will open up some playing time on the roster.
Saturday, however, wasn't a day to worry about those things.
"There's always work to be done. But I'll tell you, the way I feel about the roster is, I feel like we're in a better position today than we were in yesterday," Dipoto said. "Very excited. Very excited."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.