The Oakland A’s have acquired Kendrys Morales, and fantasy baseball owners should take note of what is shaping up to be a powerful first base platoon.
On the eve of Opening Day, it seems the Oakland Athletics struck again. On Wednesday they sent minor league infielder Jesus Lopez and international spending money to the Toronto Blue Jays for first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
Set to make $12 million in the final year of a three-year, $33 million deal he signed with Toronto, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported the Blue Jays are covering more than $10 million of the veteran slugger’s 2019 salary.
With Matt Olson out 4-6 weeks to start the season with a hand injury, Oakland needed a left-handed hitting first baseman. Morales fits that bill, even has he as a switch hitter and having become primarily a DH, with offense driving his value (21 home runs for Toronto in 2018).
If you leave out a slow start (.146/.239/.260 slash-line through May 17) and a slow finish (.192/.295/.212 from Sept. 1 on), Morales was pretty productive for a large portion of the season. From May 19-Aug. 31, spanning 81 games and 301 plate appearances, he had a .298/.372/.547 slash-line (.919 OPS) and 18 home runs, including a seven-game home run streak from Aug. 19-Aug. 26.
Morales mashes right-handers, to the tune of an .860 OPS last year (18 home runs). The Blue Jays somewhat limited his exposure to southpaws in 2018, and he hit just .199 with a .582 OPS over 151 plate appearances. Luckily, the A’s have a worthy platoon mate in place.
Mark Canha had 17 home runs and 52 RBI over 365 at-bats last season. He struggles to touch right-handers, with a .227/.323/.343 slash-line last year. But 13 of those home runs came in 149 at-bats against left-handers, with a robust .941 OPS against southpaws.
Morales played 18 games at first base last season, so he is eligible there in fantasy leagues. Canha has first base eligibility (15 games last year), but he’s also an outfielder for fantasy purposes after playing 108 games spread across all three outfield spots last year.
When setting DFS lineups, Morales and Canha will likely be solid value plays based on the handedness of the opposing starter. In season-long leagues, Morales has slightly better value in AL-only leagues right now and is worth checking the waiver wire for.