An old friend got a little closer on Friday as the Baltimore Orioles acquired Michael Morse in a waiver trade with the Seattle Mariners. The former Nationals slugger is bringing his act back to the Beltway, just with the other team.
“We needed a little more punch in our lineup and we need it now,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told reporters. “Morse is a big, strong, physical guy with experience. He’s been in the playoffs before and he has power.”
The news was met with much interest within the Nationals’ clubhouse, where Morse was a well-liked teammate for the last few years.
Manager Davey Johnson said they were discussing the Orioles waiver claim of Morse during Thursday night’s game and the dugout buzzed with the possibility of the slugger returning to the D.C. area.
“There was some interest in the dugout,” Johnson acknowledged.
Johnson liked the deal for the Orioles, given how intimately well he knows the player and the home stadium
“He’s a big impact on a lineup,” Johnson said. “Huge. In Camden Yards? I shudder to think. That ballpark’s just made for him. He’s that right-center hitter and that’s the jet stream. He’s a good fit there.”
The Nationals traded Morse this offseason after they’d acquired Denard Span and re-signed Adam LaRoche. With Morse heading into a walk year, and with significant interest in him from other teams, the Nationals decided it’d be best for the team and the player if they parted ways.
In January, general manager Mike Rizzo struck a three-team deal with Morse as the centerpiece, going to the Mariners. The Mariners sent catcher John Jaso to Oakland, and the A’s sent A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen and Ian Krol to Washington.
After getting off to a scorching hot start to the season, Morse has struggled through injuries. He played in only 11 games in June and missed a month from June to July. In August he’s played in 18 games, hitting .179 with a .225 on-base percentage and .328 slugging percentage.
The Orioles are hoping, however, that with a month to go before he hits free agency for the first time in his career, Morse will get hot and return to the form that made him such a fearsome part of the Nationals’ lineup in 2011 and 2012. In his final two seasons in Washington, Morse hit .297 with a .343 on-base percentage and averaged 24 homers a season.
“I think it’s great,” Johnson said. “I’m happy for him… He’s got a real kind of relaxed approach, which I think is good.
“They’ll be having karaoke songs and all that over there now.”