ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The addition of Franklin Morales not only gives the Toronto Blue Jays a second lefty for their bullpen, but intriguingly, also marks the club’s first significant contract completed with a Scott Boras client since the signing of outfielder Brad Wilkerson in 2008.
Morales agreed to a non-guaranteed deal worth $2 million plus incentives late Saturday night and was in uniform Sunday as the Blue Jays opened the season with a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I’m glad to be here and to help the team,” Morales, who pitched for the Kansas City Royals last year, said before the game. “They have solid hitting, a lot of power hitting here. We prepare to do our job and make the pitches, now I’m going to enjoy it, to be here.”
Manager John Gibbons said Morales – who held lefties to a .558 OPS last season compared to a .779 OPS for righties – will be used as more than just a situational southpaw. He’ll help cover the gap while Aaron Loup, who is throwing on flat ground and took a cortisone shot last week, recovers from forearm soreness.
He also ends the Blue Jays’ drought with Boras clients that spanned the entire reign of former GM Alex Anthopoulos, who took over on the penultimate day of the 2009 season and left last fall.
Wilkerson was picked up by former GM J.P. Ricciardi in May 2008 after he was released by the Seattle Mariners, and was the last Boras player on the team for a while.
In 2009 the Blue Jays drafted but failed to sign Canadian lefty James Paxton, and in 2010 they made Kris Bryant a token 18th-round selection knowing full well he was headed to the University of San Diego. Last year, Matt Boyd joined Boras just as he was being called up to the big-leagues, but the left-hander was traded soon after to the Detroit Tigers as part of the David Price deal.
Last month the Blue Jays signed Domonic Brown to a minor-league deal – the outfielder is opening the season at triple-A Buffalo – and new GM Ross Atkins then added Morales.
The drought is noteworthy because Boras is widely considered the most powerful agent in baseball and the Blue Jays essentially cut themselves off from his talent. Last September, Forbes reported that he manages over $1.7 billion in current contracts.
Morales’ deal is non-guaranteed, meaning that as a player with five years of experience, he signed a consent form that allows the Blue Jays to release him within 45 days and be responsible only for a pro-rated portion of his salary.