Earlier this week we discussed fairly extensively first baseman Adam LaRoche re-signing with the Nationals, but as mentioned during the piece, a large part of the article and the analysis of the signing is still contingent on the expected trade of Mike Morse. Morse batted .291/.321/.470 with 18 home runs and 62 runs batted in over 102 games and 406 at-bats in 2012 as he battled injuries the majority of the season. For his 8-year career, Morse is a .295/.347/.492 hitter with 70 home runs and 245 runs batted in spanning 1,546 total at-bats. Morse, 31-years-old prior to Opening Day 2013, is signed through 2013 and is scheduled to earn $6.75 million dollars next season.
This makes establishing Morse’s trade value somewhat difficult, as spring training is rapidly approaching and he is only under contract for one more year, yet Morse is a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter signed to a reasonable salary most teams can fit within their payroll, even in mid-January. Media reports have mentioned as many as 11 teams interested in acquiring Morse, with Baltimore, the Yankees, Seattle, and Tampa Bay rumored to have the strongest interest in the slugger. The Nationals roster seems fairly spoken for at this moment, with the biggest organizational needs being a possible second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen and bullpen depth overall, and prospects to help replenish the farm system after recent trades for Gio Gonzalez and Denard Span. Here is a brief look at the teams believed to have the greatest interest…
Baltimore Orioles -> The Orioles were rumored to be interested in Adam LaRoche, but balked at parting with their 1st round pick as compensation for signing him. Baltimore is still looking for a middle of the order bat and has a need a first base or designated hitter, plus they have some intriguing major league ready pitching depth.
Proposed Offer: Mike Morse to Baltimore for LHP Zach Britton and RHP Matt Hobgood
New York Yankees -> The Yankees have made it known they are still seeking another hitter, and with their stated desire to stay under the luxury tax in 2014, Morse’s short-term contract might appeal to them more than other teams bidding for his services. The Yankees do not have the young pitching depth that might immediately appeal to the Nationals, but their farm system is deep overall and ripe for a trade.
Proposed Offer: Mike Morse to New York for LHP Manny Banuelos and RHP Brett Marshall
Seattle Mariners -> This felt like a more natural fit before the Mariners traded for first baseman Kendry Morales and signed veteran outfielder Raul Ibanez, but in spite of these acquisitions, Seattle is still desperate for more offense and could seek an upgrade from Justin Smoak at first base or Ibanez in left field. Seattle has plenty of pitching prospects in the minor leagues and numerous young major league relievers (Furbush, Pryor, Capps, Luetge) that would interest Washington.
Proposed Offer: Mike Morse to Seattle for LHP Charlie Furbush and SS Marcus Littlewood
Tampa Bay Rays -> At first glance Morse does not seem to be a Tampa Bay type player with his defensive deficiencies and allergy to walks, but with offensive liabilities James Loney, Ryan Roberts, and Sam Fuld as projected starters at first base, designated hitter, and left field (as of today), certainly the Rays could use another hitter in the middle of their lineup to compliment Evan Longoria. In addition, Tampa has an abundance of pitching depth, both in the majors and minors, so this feels like a logical fit if the two front offices can work out a deal.
Proposed Offer: Mike Morse to Tampa Bay for LHP Jake McGee
Acquired in exchange for Ryan Langerhans in June 2009, Mike Morse represents perhaps Mike Rizzo’s best trade to date, as the former minor league shortstop arrived in Washington and flourished in his opportunity with the Nationals, becoming one of the more feared right-handed power hitters in the National League over the past three seasons. A fan-favorite due to his affable personality and affinity for the 1980s classic hit, A-ha’s Take On Me, Morse will be missed in NatsTown if and when he is traded. But this is what occurs when teams become good, quality players are forced off the roster due to superior players being ahead of them on the depth chart, and unfortunately Morse now finds himself on the outside looking in on a roster crunch in Washington. Therefore, even though the return for one season of a veteran player is typically not outstanding, due to the number of contending teams in need of a hitter and Mike Rizzo’s patience in trade negotiations, expect the Nationals to receive a healthy package when they decide to part with Morse, likely before pitchers and catchers report to Viera next month.
NatsGM Expected Final Destination -> Mike Morse returns to Seattle
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