It’s far too simplistic to say that the Orioles would have signed Kendrys Morales had they had to surrender a draft pick for him.
Morales is one of five players whose market has been cooled by compensation. Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Stephen Drew are the others.
The Orioles have had some level of interest in Cruz, Jimenez and Santana. In the case of Jimenez and Santana, the Orioles and other teams seem to be put off by the combination of losing a draft pick and a four-year contract.
An article by Yahoo’s Jeff Passan explored some of the history and politics of draft compensation for free agents. The five free agents’ teams made a qualifying one-year contract offer to them in November. If they accepted it, they were signed. If they didn’t, their team is awarded a draft choice.
It’s not only the Orioles who are put off by losing a draft pick for Morales. With a farm system not rife with position prospects, the Orioles could certainly use June’s draft pick.
Five of the last six Orioles’ first-round picks have been pitchers. (Manny Machado was the other.)
It’s surely tempting for Dan Duquette to try and capitalize on a win-now philosophy and forget about a player who might not reach the big leagues until 2016 or 2017. The fan base is increasingly impatient, and barring a trade, the only way to get a big hitter like Morales is through free agency.
If there hadn’t been compensation, Morales’ price would have been more expensive, and the Orioles would have more competition. Morales’ market is also hurt because of the perception he’s only a pure DH.