Cuthbert may be Royals' backup plan at DH

Morales reportedly has 3-year contract with Blue Jays

Cuthbert may be Royals' backup plan at DH

KANSAS CITY -- Just a few days after general manager Dayton Moore said the Royals "had interest" in re-signing designated hitter Kendrys Morales, Morales reportedly has a deal with the Blue Jays.

Several outlets have confirmed that pending a physical, Morales has a three-year, $33 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Moore will not comment on deals until they become official.

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But on Tuesday, Moore said of Morales, "Kendrys was crucial for us. A switch-hitter. His leadership. He's a highly productive player. We'll definitely have some ground to make up there if he's no longer with us."

But Moore then spoke of a backup plan, using third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert at DH as part of a "floating DH" to give other players such as catcher Salvador Perez and center fielder Lorenzo Cain essentially half-day offs.

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"You remember once Billy Butler departed to Oakland [after 2014], our goal was to kind of float that DH and utilize it as a way to provide some rest for our players," Moore said.

That approach makes sense from another angle: Cuthbert is out of options and his spot on the 25-man roster next year would be tenuous because Mike Moustakas will return at third base and Cuthbert does not possess much defensive versatility.

The Royals' interest in re-signing Morales was going to be limited by financial constraints -- Moore has indicated the club will need to contain spending this offseason. It's also highly likely the Royals were not going to offer a three-year deal.

It remains possible the Royals still could seek a veteran full-time DH on a more club-friendly deal -- a one- or two-year contract in the $8-10 million per year range. That could include Mike Napoli or Carlos Beltran.

Morales was a key offensive figure for the Royals after signing a two-year deal prior to 2015. He hit 52 home runs over the last two seasons with a combined .820 OPS.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.