The Washington Nationals are fielding serious trade interest in first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse. The interest is significant and from multiple teams.
But, despite the fact that he is seemingly without an everyday position, the Nationals are not interested in trading their middle-of-the-order slugger just to get him off their ledger.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has been fielding calls about Morse, under contract for one season at $6.75 million, for the better part of the past month. And, according to Rizzo, “his value is only increasing as free agents sign.”
“Mike’s an everyday middle of the lineup hitter,” Rizzo said Tuesday evening on a conference call. “We see him that way, I think the industry sees him that way.
“We’re certainly not going to give him away, but if we can make the right deal that works for Mike and works for us as a franchise, we’re certainly going to do that deal… We’re not going to make a bad deal just to move the player out of town. We don’t have to do it financially. We’re going to do what’s best for the organization.”
The Nationals, at this point, have no timetable to move Morse by — and as they showed last season, the team has no qualms about bringing more starting players to spring training than they have room for. While it wouldn’t behoove Rizzo to come out and let the baseball world know he was dying to get rid of a power-hitter, it also stands to reason that he shouldn’t (and doesn’t) feel compelled to give Morse up for an offer below what he feels is fair value.
What’s fair value? Well, the Nationals are looking to replenish their pool of pitching prospects after trades and promotions have thinned out their crop, and they’re also still looking for a left-handed reliever. Does that mean that’s all they could be seeking in a trade? No.
“We think we’re a very balanced, well-rounded, athletic club,” Rizzo said. “We pitch well, we defend well, we have power and speed. (But) you can never have enough depth in your organization and on the big-league club.
“I’d like to get a little more depth. I would certainly, in any trade that would include a Mike Morse-capable player, like to get either controllable, major-league help or prospects that help fulfill the minor-league system. We’re open to any and all ideas. If something doesn’t suit what we’re trying to look for in Mike, then we’re in no need to move a good, middle-of-the-lineup hitter that’s fairly attractively priced.”
According to various reports, teams that could be among those calling about Morse include the Yankees, Rays, Orioles, Mariners, Indians, Mets and Phillies. The Mariners and the Rays are among the Top 10 best farm systems, according to Baseball America with the Mariners coming in at No. 2 and the Rays at No. 6.
The Yankees might be willing to offer left reliever Boone Logan in exchange for Morse, according to the New York Daily News. Logan, like Morse, has one year left on his contract. He is in his final year of arbitration and made $1.875 million with the Yankees in 2012.
Whether or not that’s all it’d take is unknown at this point, but Rizzo made clear he’s not interested in simply dumping Morse.
“He’s a middle-of-the-lineup, affordable bat that can do a lot of damage,” Rizzo said. “Those guys are at a premium.”