In acquiring center fielder Denard Span, the Nationals now have to figure out what they do with Michael Morse. Do they bring him back into the infield and place him at first? This is only if they are giving up on retaining Adam LaRoche.
The other option is to trade Morse and, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, it appears that is their first option. Stark spoke to an American League source who says the Nats are “definitely shopping Mike Morse a little bit.”
Morse will be 31 on Opening Day and has one year left on a two-year deal. After 2013 a move to the A.L. would be logical, especially with his size (245 lbs) and style of play. It is not surprising the Nats have contacted American League teams to gauge interest.
Morse is a fan favorite, but the power-hitter’s value could be at an all-time high. The Nats are unlikely to re-sign him after 2013 and trading him now is better than midseason. The slugger has become a star in Washington, but could benefit long-term by changing leagues.
But trading Morse all relies on the ability to bring back LaRoche, a situation the team has less control over. For LaRoche to return, it depends on him accepting a deal. To send Morse out the door all the Nats have to do is find a trade partner. This would suggest a deal gets done with LaRoche, either in Washington or elsewhere, before the team makes a move on Morse.
LaRoche is the best first baseman available in this year’s free agency, but if Morse is to be had, he could present a better option for some teams at the position. They would likely have to give up prospects to trade for him, but Morse is younger than LaRoche and won’t require a new contract until 2013. Of the teams looking for a first baseman and being tied to LaRoche, will they now consider Morse?
The asking price for Morse, however, is probably pretty high. Teams with deep farm systems would seem to have the edge. That may eliminate some teams that have been linked to LaRoche. Take for example the Red Sox and Orioles, neither team would seem willing to part with their young building blocks. And neither are deep at pitcher which the Nationals are still looking to secure if Edwin Jackson signs with another team.
Neither option for the Nationals, re-signing LaRoche or trading Morse, will be as easy as it sounds. But both players give the Nats good options at first base. Only one of them will be back in 2013, but which one will the Nationals keep?