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Nationals trade Morse to Seattle in 3-team deal

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Nationals trade Morse to Seattle in 3-team deal

The Mariners added some much-needed power to their lineup Wednesday, acquiring Michael Morse from Washington in a three-team deal that moved catcher John Jaso from Seattle to Oakland.

The NL East champion Nationals reacquired pitching prospect A.J. Cole, dealt from Washington to Oakland 13 months ago in the trade for Gio Gonzalez. Washington also got minor league pitcher Blake Treinen and a player to be named.

Morse hit .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs last year in an injury-shortened season, playing mostly as a corner outfielder. He was with the Mariners from 2005-08 before he was traded to the Nationals for Ryan Langerhans in June 2009.

``I'm just glad this whole thing has unfolded the way it has,'' Morse said on a conference call, noting he was aware he might be traded by Washington.

``I knew there were teams involved and I knew Seattle was one of them. That was one of the teams I was hoping for. I love it out there and I always felt like I had an unfinished-business feeling in Seattle. I never got to prove myself completely what kind of player I could be or who I am,'' he said.

The deal clears up a logjam in the outfield for Washington and at designated hitter for Seattle.

The Nationals acquired speedy center fielder Denard Span from Minnesota this offseason and contemplated moving the 30-year-old Morse to first base but then re-signed Adam LaRoche. They are set at the corner outfield spots with Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth.

Jaso, 29, batted .276 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs last year but became expendable when Seattle obtained Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez, moves that shift Jesus Montero from a catcher-DH split to primarily behind the plate. The AL West champion A's traded starting catcher Kurt Suzuki to the Nationals last season and replaced him with rookie Derek Norris.

To open a roster spot for Jaso, Oakland designated catcher George Kottaras for assignment.

After struggling to score for years, Seattle has been trying to add offense the entire offseason. The Mariners acquired Morales in a trade with the Angels and pursued Arizona slugger Justin Upton. Seattle had a deal in place with the Diamondbacks, but the two-time All-Star blocked the trade.

Upton's contract gave him the power to turn down a trade to a short list of cities, Seattle included.

Morse, however, was happy to return and said he's comfortable playing first base or the outfield.

``My main goal is to play every single game. I'm so excited. Words can't describe what me and my family are going through right now. Seattle is where I got my first shot,'' he said. ``I'm glad to be back home.''

Morse had a breakout season in 2011 with Washington, hitting .303 with 31 homers and 95 RBIs. He was sidelined until June last season because of a strained back muscle and later missed time with wrist and thumb injuries.

``He's got big-time power and has obviously grown and accomplished quite a bit since he's been in Washington,'' Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. ``I was very, very excited today after I talked to him about how excited he was and that really made me feel good.''

The Mariners, coming off their third straight last-place finish in the AL West, ranked 27th out of 30 major league teams in runs last season with 619. They were last in slugging and on-base percentage, and 19th in home runs (149).

Looking to help an inept offense and finally attract some hitters, the club is bringing in the fences at spacious Safeco Field next season.

``If you ask me, I feel like I can hit the ball out of the Grand Canyon. The fences are not a problem for me,'' Morse said.

With the additions of Morse, Morales and reclamation project Jason Bay, the Mariners think they'll have a more dangerous offense.

``It certainly gives you some big pop in this lineup,'' Zduriencik said. ``We were looking for a banger and I think in Michael we got that. ... When you can look around and say you are in position to acquire an everyday guy who can hit the ball hard and hit the ball far, it can change your game. One of the things I have seen since being here is our lack of raw power.''

Jaso, a left-handed hitter, had a .394 on-base percentage last season and batted .378 with runners in scoring position. He gives the A's another option at DH and a catching complement for Norris, a right-handed hitter who batted .201 with seven homers in 60 games last year.

Cole, a 21-year-old right-hander, was among four players traded by Washington to Oakland in December 2011 for Gonzalez. Cole was 0-7 with a 7.82 ERA in eight games at Stockton of the California League and 6-3 with a 2.07 ERA at Burlington of the Midwest League, both Class A level.

Baseball America recently rated Cole as the top pitching prospect in Oakland's organization.

Treinen was 7-7 with a 4.37 ERA in 24 games at Stockton last year. The 24-year-old righty was selected by the A's in the seventh round of the 2011 draft.

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AP Sports Writers Tim Booth and Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?

RELATED: 2018 SPRING TRAINING REPORT DATES

Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.

RELATED: FORMER NATS PITCHER ARRESTED WITH MORE THAN 40 POUNDS OF SUSPECTED COCAINE

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.

RELATED: NATS REVEAL 2018 SPRING TRAINING TV SCHEDULE

He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.

RELATED: WHEN PITCHERS, CATCHERS REPORT FOR SPRING TRAINING