Michael Morse hitchhiking to a new destination - Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
The Seattle Mariners have been linked to Michael Morse for some time, in part because he used to be one of them. When Morse was a Mariner, the two were linked quite often. Then Morse was no longer a Mariner, and he had success with the Nationals, but last year there was talk the Nationals could trade him back to the M's. Now, today, the Nationals have finally re-signed first baseman Adam LaRoche, meaning they're basically guaranteed to move Morse somewhere. The Mariners, therefore, are emerging in rumors again. There are Michael Morse trade rumors, as a consequence of the LaRoche contract, and the Mariners are seen as a likely suitor.
(1) Morse hits
(2) Mariners need hits?
That's basically it. The way people think of the Mariners is that the Mariners need hitters. Michael Morse is a hitter, almost purely, so the dots connect themselves. Why wouldn't the Mariners want a guy who could improve their offense, which lately has been a pretty bad offense?
Maybe there was a time at which a Morse acquisition would've made sense for Seattle. Now, though, not so much. Now Morse will be moved, but he almost certainly won't be moved to the Mariners, unless something changes that I don't expect right now to change.
Morse's primary strength is that he has professional baseball's most spectacular breasts. Secondary behind that, he is at least a pretty good hitter. Of this there's little question. Over the last three years, Morse has posted a 133 wRC+, or, if you prefer, an .861 OPS, or, if you prefer, a .516 slugging percentage. He seldom walks, but when he makes contact, he hits the crap out of the ball -- that wRC+ beats those posted by Billy Butler and David Wright. Morse seems to have a sustainable ability to put up an above-average BABIP, implying solid contact, and the rest of his numbers imply solid contact, too. Morse is the Matt Tuiasosopo best-case scenario, and he's blossomed into a threat.
But that's all he is: a gigantic, non-elite offensive threat due to turn 31 years old. Technically he's played a lot of the outfield, but he's an outfielder in name only. He's entering the last year of his contract, and the Mariners made this one Kendrys Morales trade. They also acquired Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay and the Ibanez acquisition was difficult enough to make sense of, given the construction of the roster.
Here are a couple defensive highlights from Morse's MLB.com video highlights page:
These are highlights. Michael Morse at his best. There are Anthony Vasquez highlights you can watch that make him look like a not-completely-embarrassing major-league pitcher. Morse doesn't run well, and he doesn't get good jumps. The most sensible place for the Mariners to add another position player is the outfield, which is why they're sniffing around Justin Upton, but Michael Morse is not an outfielder. He's a hitter who has played in the outfield because there wasn't space elsewhere.
If I had a choice between the Mariners having Morse and the Mariners not having Morse, obviously, I'd take the Mariners having Morse, because he's a decent player. He could be of some value. But things can't be looked at that simply, and you have to weigh the benefits against the costs. Morse would probably be better than a Raul Ibanez/Jason Bay outfield platoon. I'm unconvinced he'd be better than Casper Wells, overall, and the Mariners already have one of those. People who don't understand that are blinded by power numbers. Defense does matter, and baserunning does matter, and Morse wouldn't represent much of an overall improvement. After the year, he'd walk.
The Mariners don't look like a championship team in 2013. There's nothing wrong with improving a team you don't expect to contend for the title, naturally, and we liked the Morales trade, but the Morales trade was a swap of one-year value for one-year value. A free-agent-to-be was exchanged for a free-agent-to-be. Morse, probably, would cost the Mariners a Stephen Pryor, or a Carter Capps, or a Charlie Furbush. That would be a swap of multiple-years value for one-year value in a year in which the Mariners might win 85 games if they get a lot of breaks. I love the idea of trading relievers, but not for players like Morse, not given Morse's contract situation, and not given the Mariners' organizational situation. Now is not the time to try to add that guy.
If Morse came super cheap, sure, whatever, get him and make room. He wouldn't come cheap enough, as there's demand, and as there are teams who are better fits for that sort of player. It isn't impossible that the Mariners could work Morse into the fold, but it would be sufficiently complicated, and sufficiently lateral, that I don't think this is going down. Morse and the Mariners aren't a good match anymore. I'm not sure they ever were.