There is a new possibility on the trade market for the Philadelphia Phillies to pursue: Mike Morse. Will Rube Amaro easily dismiss this opportunity?
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There is no way that Amaro isn’t eyeing Morse as a possible acquisition.
The conventional wisdom, however, is that the Nationals will not deal him to a division rival. This mentality is clouded by the illusion that he would be perfect for the Phils, which he is not. Also, it does not consider that both organizations could part with a player who could return to haunt them. Or each club could plug a hole that would help them to accumulate more victories.
Like the red pinstripes, most bartering partners will not be a 100% match. Meanwhile, Washington does not have a quick and easy path to a swap. And that doesn’t include the usual poker-game haggling. That stated, it doesn’t change the bargaining obstacles.
Reasons for the difficulty to move Morse:
- Low offers from most general managers.
- A recent injury history.
- Free agency in 2014.
- A below-average defender (weak left-side defense behind 3B Michael Young).
- No desire to DH.
Rumors indicate that 10-11 franchises have an interest in Morse. Besides the locals, seven suitors include the Mets, the Yankees, the Rays, the Mariners, the Indians, the Red Sox and the Rangers. The 3 others could be the Braves, the Giants and the Orioles.
The Nats are asking for pitchers with potential or a southpaw reliever. They lost Sean Burnett (Angels), Mike Gonzalez (Brewers) and Tom Gorzelanny (Brewers). They added Bill Bray, who was released outright by the Reds. They say their right handers can retire left-side batters, but that may not be a wise decision with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley on an adversary’s squad.
Of the 11 teams, only San Francisco is not in the same division or the AL. They have a more expansive outfield to patrol, and have more interest in bringing back their stars from last year. They have spent heavily on Angel Pagan, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Marco Scutaro. Plus, Hunter Pence will cost in the neighborhood of $13.8 million, and they are approaching their financial ceiling.
The Metropolitans are building for 2014 with their young starters, and are not eager to give them up. Atlanta is holding out for Justin Upton, because they do have inexpensive hurlers at or near the major-league level. Morse would only be a backup plan, and they wouldn’t part with a first-tier prospect for him. Also, the Nationals probably view the Braves as their strongest challenger to repeat in the NL East.
Boston considers Morse as a fallback position to Mike Napoli, who has a questionable hip. It put a crimp on a 3-campaign agreement that the Red Sox now want to make 1 tour before guaranteeing more. Baltimore and Texas would probably consider Morse only as a designated hitter. They will see a negative factor similar to the one for Cody Ross, who said playing right field was his least desired role.
Tampa Bay and New York (AL) need their best minor-league arms. The Rays will have to replace David Price, because he is on the verge of earning top dollar. The Bronx Bombers realize they cannot buy more titles, and have maintained that stance for the last 2 seasons. With a big 162, Morse will command more money than either organization will have a budget for, but the competitive-balance threshold will increase by $11 million, which will not be a problem in Philly.
$178M Maximum before the Luxury Tax:
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The Tribe recently signed Nick Swisher, which means they are more likely to address other weaknesses. Also, they want long-term solutions, like Seattle. The M’s are open to trading talented Triple-A wings but there is no urgency for 2013.
The rub for Washington is the $6.75 million owed to Morse that could be utilized elsewhere. Both red-cap rivals have a piece that the other would value, and this may be the final wrinkle before Opening Day. Antonio Bastardo, Jeremy Horst or a farm-product stud are the type of bait that would reel in the Nats, if it becomes a reality. It would also assist Washington in their quest for another NLDS appearance, while it could haunt Amaro, regarding Howard and Utley.
This deal could benefit or hurt both clubs, which means it is worth watching for the next 11 weeks.
Seattle did not have to surrender any prospects for Morse, because it was a 3-team arrangement. That talent came from Oakland, which made the swap acceptable for the Mariners. Seatlle has not been attracting long-term stars and had to settle for a 1-tour starter.
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This is the 11th storyline for 2013. Check out my recent publication (The Spring Swing) on the Phillies page or my author archives, where there is an excerpt photo. Also, my new feature is Suds or Studs.
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Tal Venada (Author Archives)