Set Michael Morse Free
I wasn’t a big fan of the Michael Morse/John Jaso trade from the beginning. This isn’t to say I told you so — plenty of people were in the same boat. Especially here. It hardly counted as a controversial opinion, but it was an opinion, one that ran counter to that of the Mariners themselves. I assumed that Morse would go on to be a mediocre overall player who fans would enjoy because of his personality and dingers. The kind of guy because of whom we’d have to issue periodic reminders that it’s also important to play defense and reach base. Turns out I assumed wrong. Morse has been worse than that. He’s been worse than mediocre, and he doesn’t have the fans I pegged him for.
In related news, the Mariners have pulled Kendrys Morales off waivers, but Morse has been claimed by the Orioles and that window’s still open. Players get claimed off waivers all the time, and usually nothing happens, but Morse could soon end up on a fringe contender, and I think the Mariners ought to let him go. I don’t think they even need to ask for anything back.
Oh, they will, if they haven’t already. No harm in asking, and the Orioles’ DH situation is pretty sad. Morse is a DH, and nothing more than that, but the Orioles don’t have a regular for the position and Morse might actually provide for them a little boost. Maybe they’re willing to give up an uninteresting prospect for that. But I’d be happy with the Mariners just taking the savings. Morse is due a little more than $1 million before the end of the season, and, yeah, I’d trade Michael Morse for a million dollars. I don’t even know what the Mariners would do with that money, but I know they wouldn’t be giving it to Michael Morse.
What’s the argument for keeping Morse around? At the trade deadline, the Mariners wanted to keep their veterans in order to ensure a competitive finish. The Mariners, right now, suck, and there’s just a month left. It’s not like Morse is too valuable to hand off — he’s been one of the least valuable players in baseball, if you at all trust what WAR is screaming in your face. Then there’s the matter of Franklin Gutierrez being back, and while Gutierrez is always an injury risk, and while he’s presumably gone next year too, the point is there’s a crowd. Justin Smoak plays first and Morales is in at DH. In the outfield, you’ve got Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders and Raul Ibanez and Endy Chavez and Gutierrez and possibly Abe Almonte, soon. Ackley and Saunders ought to play a whole bunch. You can’t just never play the other guys. Morse doesn’t have room on his own team.
Maybe it’s about having a better chance to bring Morse back for 2014? He might be more likely to re-sign if the Mariners don’t make him move across the country for a month. I think the strongest counter-argument is:
No, don’t do that. Don’t try to bring Morse back. The thing is he’s not real good. He’s probably not this bad, but he might be, and the last two years he’s been a little below replacement-level, if you believe in that. He’s fragile and he strikes out and he doesn’t play defense. He’s probably going to want to be a starter. The Mariners shouldn’t let Morse be a starter for them a year from now.
But if the Mariners were absolutely determined to bring Morse back for a second chance, trading him now shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. We all heard how amped up Morse was to be joining the Mariners last offseason. He seemed to love it here. Maybe he still loves it here. Maybe he could understand that he’d just be moved in this situation because of the team’s best overall interests. Teams before have re-signed players they’ve traded. The Mariners could go after free-agent Morse, even though, no, absolutely, do not do that.
Michael Morse is:
- a free-agent-to-be
- with a non-negligible salary
- and bad numbers
- on a team without room for him
He should be handed off for a million bucks. If the free-agent market value of a win is about five million dollars, then by giving Morse away, the Mariners could save the equivalent of a fifth of a win, which is more than Morse has been worth to date. I agree with those who think his numbers have been made worse by playing through injury. I agree that peak, healthy Morse is probably still a pretty productive hitter. But Morse isn’t durable, so you can’t count on having peak, healthy Morse very much. He’s going to get hurt, and if he chooses to play through the pain, he won’t hit as well. If he sits out instead, he adds no value. We can’t evaluate Morse by his hottest stretches, because the aches and pains are a part of the reality, and they probably won’t get less frequent as Morse gets older and older.
The Mariners have too many players, and many of them aren’t very good. They’ve been presented with an opportunity to shed one of those players, and even pick up a few bucks in the process. There is no compelling argument for keeping Michael Morse around, so he should be given to the Orioles, if they refuse to trade a player. Morse’ll be fine — the Orioles are a better team, with something to play for, still. Keeping him for September wouldn’t make one lick of sense. I trust the Mariners can see that. I need for the Mariners to be able to see that.