uspw_4735184With the Nationals re-signing Adam LaRoche, it now appears they would like to trade Mike Morse. The 1B/OF will be 31 in 2013 and has one year left on his contract. He will make $6.75 million in 2013.

On the surface, he seems like an ideal designated hitter candidate for the Rays. In the last three seasons he has averaged .296 with a .345 OBP and 21 home runs (his ’10-’12 wOBAs = .377/.390/.340). However, despite being a poor defender, Morse is “strongly opposed” to being a designated hitter according to Ken Rosnethal.

There is also the question of what the Rays would have to give up. While Buster Olney doesn’t think the Nationals would get very much (see below), Adam Kilgore says the Nationals are seeking “young, starting pitching prospects or a major league reliever, particularly a left-hander.” Does that sound like anything the Rays would be willing to give up for a one-year rental? It doesn’t sound very promising.

Here is what some are saying about Morse…

  • Ken Rosenthal says the Nationals have spoken with 5-6 teams about Morse. Those teams include the Rays, Mariners (the favorites according to one executive), Yankees, and Orioles with “varying levels of interest.”  [Twitter]
  • Buster Olney doesn’t think the Nationals can get very much for Morse. “Some GMs say privately that while they like Morse, they can’t see surrendering much, given his lack of a natural position and his lengthy injury history. And the Nationals will be hurt by the fact that there are similar players on the market, most notably Jason Kubel.” [ESPN Insider]
  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post says Morse “will almost certainly be traded” in the next five weeks.  [Washington Post]
  • Players similar to Mike Morse hit .287 with a .373 OBP (.370 wOBA) at the age of 31. [Fangraphs]
  • Meanwhile, Morse is taking a break from social media for a while. [@Dc_BEAST38]
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32 Comments

  1. CRRaysHead90 says:

    Why does Morse have be a DH? I think he'd be a better fit at first, regardless of Loney. In fact, Loney would be better used in my mind as a pinch hitter when you need someone just to get on base. And the occasional "the main 1B needs a day off" first baseman.

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    • LaneMeyer says:

      Don't expect to see Maddon sacrifice that much defense at 1B just to get a little more pop. He'd rather have both. I'd like to see them bring in a righty power hitter too but not at the expense of defense. They may also want to consider Hafner or Sizemore if they could get them cheaply with a lot of incentives. At least offer a starter prospect for Morse (Romero) and see what they say.

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      • CRRaysHead90 says:

        Statistically speaking. Morse had a .993% Fielding Pct. and only 3 errors in 774.1 Innings on defense last season (split between 1B, LF and RF.) That doesn't sound like that much of a downgrade from Pena, again statistically speaking.

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  2. Daniel Bamber says:

    I don't understand why he would oppose a move to the Rays. It is not as if the Rays would permantly make him a full time DH, sure he play at DH but he would see time at 1B and in the OF also.

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    • LaneMeyer says:

      He'd probably get about 2 starts a week at 1B against lefty starters and maybe a spot start in the OF from time to time. At 32, he can't discount half the MLB teams because he's never been a DH. I can't see too many teams wanting him as an every day defensive starter, regardless of league.

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    • Joe says:

      He's not opposing a move to the Rays. The beauty is he would fit into an OF spot and when he isn't in LF or RF or when Myers gets the call, he should play 1B, and then DH maybe a small portion of time. Any player who gets labeled a "DH" only usually means their career is nearly over. Far from the case here. This is a perfect fit and acquisition for the Rays as he comes cheap at $6.75 for the reward he would bring. I would make this acquisition in a heartbeat!

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  3. Matt says:

    I think a deal with Enny Romero going to the Nats would be pretty fair. The
    Rays don't really need Romero because by the time he is ready our other top guys from the 2011 and 12 draft will be ready. Gives them a good, young minor league lefty hurler for down road and we get the power bat we need. That is, if Morse can check his ego at the door and buy in to the Rays way.

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  4. Don says:

    Let me figure this out...M. Morris for $6.7 mil, Hits .280 and a liability in the field (don't want to DH).. or Keppinger for $3mil. hits .300 and can play anywhere in the INF or DH..hes ok with it..
    Wait I'm thinking

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    • Tom says:

      If I am Kepp, I sign with the Chisox over the Rays unless the Rays make a substantially better offer. His best positions are 3B and 2B and the Rays 2 best players happen to play those positions. I do not understand why you think he would have signed with the Rays for 3 million.

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    • Daniel Bamber says:

      Don when do the Rays sign an FA to a 3 year deal? The Rays probably were willing to mtach what the WhiteSox were offering Kepp ($4Mill a year) however rather than it being a 3 year deal that he signed with the WhiteSox, i bet you the Rays were only offering a 1 year deal plus an option at the very best.

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    • TOM says:

      Couldn't agree more. I'm still intrigue that they didn't sign Kepp. even at 4mil instead of signing escobar at 5mil. I still think they're going to regret that. With the Rays it doesn't surprise me. Just look at Ruggiano for one.

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    • KT says:

      Kepp signed for 4 million per year for 3 years dummy. Rays most definitely offered something similar, but the contract he ended up getting is an overpay. And who's M. Morris? Never heard of him but pretty sure the Rays aren't trying to acquire him, because he's not a baseball player. Is he an umpire? Are they trying to hire umpires to get more favorable calls on days when Molina's not catching? Please elaborate.

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  5. Dave L says:

    Defensive statistics aren't as reliable as offensive stats especially at first base and catcher. You have to watch both guys play alot to compare and I haven't so I cant comment much especially on NL guys.

    I will take the experts words that he is a average to less than average first baseman while Loney is above average. If he came to us he could platoon Loney at first AND play some DH. Loney's split against lefties is substantially lower than against RH while Morse has no bias and would play everyday against both.

    Of all the hot stove nonsense floated about regarding the Rays from trading Helli, or Shields for Justin until now. This is finally one that makes sense in the Rays way.

    But at $6.75M per for 2 and with still a bullpen to be fleshed out I think he wont come here and not because of the aversion to being a DH, it will be because he was too expensive, in Rays economics.

    I expect us to sign a DH in the $3-4M range.

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  6. Geoff Peterson says:

    "Essentially in 150 games as a 1B, Morse will give up 8.2 runs worse than the average MLB first-baseman and when playing OF he gives up 21.6 more runs than the average MLB outfielder. "

    Interesting article from a Nats writer about a year ago.

    http://www.thenatsblog.com/2011-articles/october/michael-morse-a-statistical-story.html

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  7. Dave L says:

    Upon further reflection....

    If the Rays actually TRADED a young player with any value and possible upside, ESPECIALLY a pitcher, for 1 year of a once (and presently)productive 30+ player who with a good year would then hit bye bye level free agency at best and a bad year at worst would be a mistake, consuming 10% of the player payroll.....well my mind would be completely blown.

    The Rays never trade value for a player at his price when they think they can sign another similiar player at his price (though lower often)

    ZERO chance we trade anyone of value for Morse as someone else inevitably will.

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    • Joe says:

      Too bad then because this offseason would be a failure, and that is still getting Wil Myers. It is a failure because there would be no spark or reason to watch the club. Except knowing that the sands of time are against David Price. Make the dang deal and add some pop. Just to hear A-Ha and Take on Me and and listen to the crowd go nuts for his walk up song is reason alone for me!!

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      • Tom says:

        Joe, I hope they get Morse too, but how much do you thin the Ray should give up? If the Nats ask for McGee and Archer do you think the Rays should make the trade?

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        • KT says:

          McGee AND Archer!? Haha, You guys are funny

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        • Dave L says:

          Neither.

          Rule #1 in evaluating any imagined trade involving the Rays.

          Ask yourself, is a comparable player at comparable compensation available for free, via free agency? If the answer is YES which it always is involving ANY aging DH type, then the Rays will never trade a young player of VALUE especially a pitcher.

          The DH we will finally end up with will be half the price of Morse, will be able to spot sub 1st or OF with average to plus defense and have historical productivity numbers slightly lower than Morse and coming off a crappy year possibly due to injury. Take it to the bank.

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        • Joe says:

          You give up "enough". You don't break the bank, but the offense is inadequate. Create some spark and interest. Michael Morse can do that. He is a Paul Bunyon lovable type the Rays fans can adore.

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          • Tom says:

            What is "enough"? To me when you start to think the offseason is a failure unless you trade for one specific player is exactly when you overpay for that player.

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  8. Dave L says:

    This offseason is exactly like all other Rays off seasons, why do you expect this one to be any different?

    1) We trade guys about to get a big free agent boost while we still can

    2) We get prospects in return

    3) We sign grade C free agents, and discover some nice arms for the pen

    Lather, Rinse, Repeat

    Study the Rays recent past, its easy to do. They are very predictable. Then you wont get your hopes up. I tend to live in the world of the world of the probable. If you wish to live in the world of the highly improbable then you will continually face disappointment and failure.

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    • Don says:

      Maybe we don't want to "face" disappointment and failure from a team (management) who could do so much better, with just a few more (correct) moves,we should move into the contender stage(level) of ML baseball,
      Maybe you like predicting continued failure, ME i don't like watching it, I KNOW things could be better,
      Now start your pitch about Rich guys who don't want to spend money, so they can make more money off their "hobby" business!

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  9. Nathan says:

    There is a reason that the Nats kept going after LaRoche at age 33 over Morse at age 30. Injuries and defense were probably key. Rays can't pay someone almost $7M for limited playing time. If they do make a trade, I would expect it to be someone way down the list, like a newly acquired Mike Montgomery.

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  10. Rob says:

    I don't understand why everyone wants this guy. He is an aging, defensive liability with moderate to good power coming from the NL and doesn't want to DH. He sounds just like Pat Burrell.

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  11. Upstater says:

    Morse has enough position flexibility to be useful to the Rays, and a potentially useful bat. He's a one-year rental in any case, but could be a difference maker this season...which could be Price's last. At less than what Pena was paid last season, he's worth a LH prospect, of which the Rays have many.

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