Despite his strong desire to avoid becoming a regular or even part-time designated hitter, Michael Morse may have little choice in the matter now that he has been traded to the Seattle Mariners in a three-team deal that also includes the Washington Nationals and Oakland A's.
In the midst of all the drama surrounding Notre Dame's Manti Te'o on Wednesday afternoon, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports snuck in a quick tweet reporting that a deal was close to materializing between Seattle and Washington.
The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore soon confirmed the deal was completed, and was the first to report that Washington would be receiving pitching prospect A.J. Cole — who they traded to Oakland last winter as the centerpiece of the Gio Gonzalez — along with two additional prospects from the A's in return for Morse. Additionally, Seattle will send catcher John Jaso to Oakland to complete the three-way deal.
This certainly doesn't qualify as unexpected news. A Morse trade had become more likely as the winter progressed due to the Nationals acquiring centerfielder Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins and re-signing Adam Laroche to a two-year deal. And again, despite Morse's opposition to a DH role, his landing in the American League was almost inevitable because of his defensive shortcomings and his perceived value as a DH/first baseman/corner outfielder with some right-handed pop.
It's also no secret that Seattle has remained aggressive in its pursuit of offense, even after acquiring Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez. Last week, the Mariners had a trade in place with the Arizona Diamondbacks to acquire outfielder Justin Upton, which would have proven to be a more ideal fit for their lineup, but Upton rejected the agreement due to his no-trade clause.
So now they get Morse, who's 31 and set to be a free agent after the season. It'll be interesting to see how he fits in the Mariners' lineup and whether or not he's happy in his role, but as Morosi suggests, that could all hinge on Jesus Montero's development behind the plate and Seattle's confidence in using him there regularly.
If Montero can catch, then Morse-1B/LF, Morales-DH/1B, Ibanez-LF/DH. If Montero can't catch, it's a boondoggle.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 17, 2013
The application of boondoggle is always appreciated.
As for the rest of the deal, Kilgore fills us in on the returning A.J. Cole:
Cole, a 6-foot-4 right-hander who can hit the high-90s with his fastball, went 0-7 with a 7.82 ERA when Oakland started him at high-A Stockton. After a demotion to low-A, Cole improved and went 6-3 with a 2.07 ERA the rest of the season. His star has dimmed since the Nationals dealt him to Oakland, but he is still only 21 and still has the potential Washington saw in him when they signed him to a $2 million bonus out of the 2010 draft.
Jaso, 29, started 108 games for Seattle in 2012 and posted career highs with 10 home runs and a .276. He'll enter a three-way battle for playing time Derek Norris and George Kottaras, assuming Oakland doesn't flip Kottaras.