The Seattle Mariners didn't get Josh Hamilton. They didn't get Nick Swisher, they haven't seemed to pursue Michael Bourn, they haven't gotten far with Andre Ethier, and they were turned down by Justin Upton. They didn't get Mike Napoli. The Mariners were left with money and something of a need, but no obvious fits. Given such a circumstance, the Mariners had three options:
(1) Sit tight for now and wait for better opportunities in the future
(2) Search harder for a non-obvious fit
(3) Do something dumb
The Mariners, ultimately, opted for #3, as today they traded John Jaso for Michael Morse straight up, basically. Morse is coming from the Nationals, and Jaso is going to the A's, because as if this needed to be any worse, now Jaso's going to a rival instead of the National League. I don't even know where Jaso fits on that roster right now, which hardly helps. He definitely fit on this roster. You know what the Mariners need now? A catcher of some sort. Kind of like John Jaso.
Morse, in theory, is the Mariners' third regular outfielder. He's demonstrated in the past that he can hit, which is why he's been acquired, but he doesn't play defense well, or anything even approaching the level of well, and he seems to be getting increasingly injury-prone. If he's actually an upgrade over Casper Wells, overall, he's a very small one, and the Mariners just gave up an OBP-heavy catcher to make that upgrade in a season in which they're unlikely to contend. And Morse is under contract for one year.
That's the other big thing. All things being equal, I'd rather have John Jaso than Michael Morse. All things aren't equal, because Jaso is under team control through 2015, while Morse is on track to become a free agent after this season. It was okay when the Mariners traded for one year of Kendrys Morales, because they gave up one year of Jason Vargas. Here, they touched their future beyond 2013, and I sure as hell don't get why.
Yeah, the Mariners could trade Morse in the middle of the season, just as they could Morales. Would they get back a player as valuable as John Jaso? The Mariners must think that Jaso is pretty ordinary, and while I understand they're not high on his defense, come on. I mean, come on. C'monnnnn.
Maybe you like Morse. His power bat will definitely be of some service. Maybe you don't really like Jaso. He's not a great catcher, and he hasn't proven that he can hit lefties at all. Morse isn't awful, and Jaso isn't amazing. But this isn't an even swap of value. The idea of trading Jaso isn't repulsive; the idea of trading him now, for Morse, is more repulsive. Unless the industry is just really, really down on Jaso for reasons beyond my present understanding.
It just got easier for Mike Zunino to get to the majors. Great for him. The Mariners got back a guy they presumably wish they hadn't lost in the first place. Great for them. I'll be back later with a lot more on this deal, once I'm done over at FanGraphs, but I can't bring myself to rationalize this. I'm unconvinced by what I assume will be the Mariners' rationalization. But hey, at least they're spending money and getting dingers, right? What could go wrong with dingers?