The Brewers have sent scouts to see free agent first baseman Kendrys Morales and that may be the least surprising thing in the world.
I say it's the least surprising thing in the world because of course the Brewers have some interest in Morales. They are running out a 37-year-old with one hit on the season against right-handers. It got so bad that they seem to have decided 'screw it' and are now just starting Mark Reynolds full-time. So Morales, a switch-hitter who has hit much better against righties in his career, could be an excellent platoon partner for Reynolds. Or just the full-time starting baseman if the team doesn't believe in Reynolds' hot start.
So of course the Brewers are interested. They haven't had a first baseman since Corey Hart's knees decided they didn't want to work anymore. The question is how much interest does the team have in Morales, who hit .277/.336/.449 with 23 home runs last year for the Mariners?
If the Brewers really want Morales, I think most fans can agree that they would rather wait a couple months before the team signs him. Morales turned down a qualifying offer from the Mariners, necessitating the forfeiture of a draft pick by any other team that signs him. By waiting until after the June draft, the Brewers would no longer be required to lose a first round selection.
But that also puts the Brewers in a funny position. They have started out hot with a 6-2 record, including a sweep of the defending World Series champion Red Sox. Management clearly thought they had a chance to make the playoffs coming into the season, but those hopes may now be elevated. By waiting to sign Morales, they lose out on two months of solid production that could be the difference in a postseason berth or an early offseason.
Also playing into the timing are the other interested teams. Any one of them could pull the trigger soon, leaving the Brewers out in the cold. Thus, if the team wants Morales, they may need to jump quick. If Morales does wait until after the draft to sign, it will certainly increase the pool of teams who would love to have him on their team. Keep in mind the division-rival Pirates are also looking for a first baseman and their situation at the position may be even worse than the Brewers'.
It's a tough situation for the Brewers, and I'm not envious of the decision they may have to make. Sign Morales and maximize the team's win potential as early as possible, or wait until after the draft which saves and draft pick, but may mean he'll no longer be available. I'd much rather they save their draft pick, personally. Morales is good and is certainly an upgrade to what the team has now, but he's not good enough to forfeit a pick. If he was, he wouldn't still be a free agent. Still, I can see the merits of both options.
The other factor to this is how much Morales would cost, too. The qualifying offer would have netted him $14.1 million for the year. Nelson Cruz, in a similar situation as Morales, settled for $8 million over one year. Morales would likely end up at a prorated salary close to that, something the Brewers may not be able to afford as their budget is already stretched thin. Then again, Mark Attanasio has opened his checkbook before when he deemed it worthwhile.
It all depends on just how interested the Brewers are. If it's just a checking-in type deal, there's likely no way they approach him with a solid offer before the draft. If management thinks he's the missing piece, though, all bets are off.
Of course, Stephen Drew is also still available in free agency if the Brewers would rather just stick with shortstops playing first base.