Wednesday night, on the eve of Opening Day, the A's acquired veteran slugger Kendrys Morales from the Toronto Blue Jays, the teams announced. Minor league infielder Jesus Lopez and international bonus pool money are going to Toronto in the deal. The A's will also receive cash to offset Morales' $12 million salary.
The A's lost Olson to a broken hamate bone in his right hand when the team opened their regular season in Japan last week. He had surgery as soon as the team returned home and will miss at least 6-8 weeks. Hamate injuries are known to sap a player's power even after he completes his rehab and is declared healthy. It takes a while for the strength to return to the hand.
Morales, 35, has not played more than 30 games at first base since 2013 or as many as 50 games at first base since 2010. He has primarily been a DH the last few years. Chances are he will platoon at first base with left masher Mark Canha rather than play the field full-time. Here is the A's possible lineup following the trade:
- LF Robbie Grossman
- 3B Matt Chapman
- RF Stephen Piscotty
- DH Khris Davis
- 1B Kendrys Morales/Mark Canha
- 2B Jurickson Profar
- SS Marcus Semien
- C Nick Hundley
- CF Ramon Laureano
In 130 games last season Morales hit .249/.331/.438 with 21 home runs. He is in the final year of a three-year, $33 million contract and will become a free agent following the 2019 season. The Blue Jays originally signed Morales to replace Edwin Encarnacion.
For the Blue Jays, the move clears some payroll and also clears a lineup spot. It allows them to play outfielders Kevin Pillar, Billy McKinney, Teoscar Hernandez, and Randal Grichuk on an everyday basis. They could also plug first base prospect Rowdy Tellez in at DH, and, once he's over his oblique injury, top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be an option as well.
Lopez, 22, authored a .239/.293/.402 batting line with 10 home runs in 84 Low Class-A games last season. He has played all around the infield and is a career .221/.278/.311 hitter in 333 minor league games. MLB.com did not rank Lopez among the A's top 30 prospects prior to the trade.
The Athletics lost both Japan Series games to the Mariners last week. They continue their regular season against the Angels on Thursday. The Blue Jays open their season against the Tigers on Thursday.