The Mariners and Angels completed a slightly surprising but ultimately sensible trade last night, swapping left handed starter Javier Vargas for 1B / DH Kendrys Morales. Vargas gives the Angels a reasonable innings eater to fill out the rotation, one who will benefit from Angels Stadium’s run suppression and the team’s strong outfield defense, for a hitter whose opportunities were likely to be limited in Anaheim but who gives the Ms a much needed power threat.
Morales is likely to spend the majority of his time at DH in Seattle, with former top prospect and current bad major leaguer Justin Smoak at first base. That could leave last winter’s marquee acquisition Jesus Montero to spend a little more time at catcher than he otherwise would have. There is minimal indication that Montero has the defensive skills to be a full time backstop, but with Morales a free agent at the end of 2013 he now has a final chance to show that he’s a least competent enough back there to play the position on occasion.
With John Jaso in the fold, Montero’s options behind the plate will likely come against left handers only, or on days when Jaso needs a breather. Even in this limited time at the position, Montero may show he can do a job back there without embarrassing himself or getting hurt. If things work out as planned, prospect Mike Zunino will be the Mariners full time catcher in the near future, however these things often don’t pan out the way teams would like so if Montero can show at least a small amount of capability as a catcher it will leave the Mariners with much more flexibility going forward.