Nationals

Quick Links

Nationals trade Morse to Seattle in 3-team deal

201301162019731936974-p2.jpeg

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.

---

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

Quick Links

Fresh round of cuts helps Nationals Opening Day roster take shape

Fresh round of cuts helps Nationals Opening Day roster take shape

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Opening Day roster became much clearer Saturday following a slew of player moves by the Nationals.

Right-handed pitcher Joe Ross was optioned to Triple-A Fresno. After consideration of using Ross in the bullpen, the organization decided to send him to Triple A and stretch him out there. Manager Davey Martinez said they view Ross as a starter now and in the future.

Catcher Spencer Kieboom and right-handed starter Erick Fedde will go to Double-A Harrisburg. This is the first instance of a decision based on the change in Triple-A affiliation. The Nationals switched from Syracuse to Fresno in the offseason -- a move they did not have complete control of. So, Kieboom and Fedde will go to Harrisburg in order to be readily available should something happen to a player on the 25-man roster during the opening homestand.

Prospect Carter Kieboom, right-handed starter Henderson Alvarez, right-handed reliever Aaron Barrett, right-handed reliever Scott Copeland and left-handed reliever Vidal Nuno have been reassigned to minor-league camp.

Carter Kieboom impressed at the plate throughout the spring. He continues to learn second base after sliding over from his traditional shortstop position. Barrett takes another step in his comeback following Tommy John surgery and a fractured elbow. Martinez said he thinks Barrett will help the parent club at some point this season.

Washington has three spring training games remaining. Patrick Corbin and Joe Ross pitch in split-squad games Sunday. Monday, the team is back in the District for its final game of the exhibition season. The season opener is Thursday, March 28.

This round of cuts drops the team’s options to 30 players. Koda Glover (forearm), Howie Kendrick (hamstring) and Michael A. Taylor (hip/knee) are unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. That trio appears heading for the injured list. Which leaves two bench spots among utility player Adrian Sanchez, outfielder Andrew Stevenson or first baseman, and out-of-nowhere minor-leaguer, Jake Noll until Taylor and Kendrick are ready. Two bullpen spots are available to Wander Suero, Justin Miller and Austen Williams in that alignment.

The Nationals could keep all three relievers for Opening Day. That would give them a bench of catcher Kurt Suzuki, utility player Wilmer Difo, first baseman Matt Adams, and likely Stevenson as the fourth outfielder.

Another wrinkle: reliever Kyle Barraclough, who has a 5.19 ERA and has allowed three home runs in 8 ⅔ innings, still has options. Sending him down would be a significant pivot after the organization often touted him as one of its featured relievers.

Last, multiple off-days to start the season play into this equation. If the Nationals choose a smaller bullpen group, it will have more time than usual to recover. What we know is these players are coming to play Thursday:

Starting pitchers:
Max Scherzer
Stephen Strasburg
Patrick Corbin (L)
Anibal Sanchez
Jeremy Hellickson

Relievers:
Tony Sipp (L)
Matt Grace (L)
Wander Suero
Trevor Rosenthal
Sean Doolittle (L)

Position players:
Yan Gomes (C)
Kurt Suzuki (C)
Ryan Zimmerman (1B)
Brian Dozier (2B)
Trea Turner (SS)
Anthony Rendon (3B)
Adam Eaton (RF)
Victor Robles (CF)
Juan Soto (LF)
Wilmer Difo (Utility)
Matt Adams (1B)

A few decisions remain to determine who will join them.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Davey Martinez reveals the top -- and bottom -- of his lineup

Davey Martinez reveals the top -- and bottom -- of his lineup

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- We have a decision: Adam Eaton will leadoff, Trea Turner will hit second.

And, Victor Robles will reside at the bottom of the order in the ninth spot. Nationals manager Davey Martinez waffled during the spring about how to handle the top of the lineup. He recently made a decision, but declined to reveal it until asked again Saturday.

“After running all the numbers, I kind of like it,” Martinez said. “I like the fact he’s the first hitter they face. He’s a pest. I like the fact that he goes up there and sometimes gives 7-, 8-pitch at-bats, 9-pitch at-bats. And him hitting in front of Trea...Trea can hit and can drive in runs as well, so, having Robles hitting ninth, Eaton one, Trea two, that’s a pretty good combination.”

Both Eaton and Turner have led off the majority of their careers. Both would prefer to leadoff if given a straight choice. Here, Martinez decided for them.

A natural question is how such a structure would influence Turner’s opportunities to steal with either Juan Soto or Anthony Rendon right behind him. Martinez said it should have no bearing. Turner can just go.

“We want him to go,” Martinez said. “I think his biggest fear is maybe hitting in front of Anthony and Soto, but that shouldn’t deter what you do. We want him to steal bases.”

Robles is often going to hit ninth in order to align with Eaton and Turner. Martinez argues there is only one time when a player is the actual “leadoff” hitter. After that, the lineup churn begins.

So, here’s an Opening Day projection:


Eaton (L)
Turner
Soto (L)
Rendon
Zimmerman
Dozier
Gomes
Scherzer
Robles

One possible glitch is the catcher hitting in front of the pitcher. That could lead to situations where the pitcher is moving a runner, and the runner happens to be a catcher. Though, Gomes and Kurt Suzuki are above-average runners for their position.

Martinez said more information on the how and why of this decision is to come.

“Just what’s best as a whole lineup-wise, construction-wise,” Martinez said. “You’ll know more Opening Day why we want to do it, but I like Adam leading off.”

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: