LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The San Francisco Giants added a big man with big power Thursday, the final day of baseball's winter meetings, signing slugger Michael Morse to a one-year contract for $5 million, plus incentives. Buster Olney of ESPN reported the money first. Morse, who turns 32 years old in March, likely will play left field, but also has put in time at first base.
He's sized like a beast, at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds. It's still hard to believe, no matter how much it's repeated humorously, that Morse came up through the minors as a shortstop. But he's shown he can hit, and hit it far, at the major league level — when healthy. He also resembles actor/funny troublemaker Sacha Baron Cohen.
Morse's career line: .281/.334/.473 with with 83 home runs in 2,027 plate appearances. He has a career adjusted OPS of 119, with his best season coming with the Washington Nationals in 2011, when Morse hit .303/.360/.550 with 32 home runs and 36 doubles in 575 plate appearances. He also finished with a .247 isolated power in '11, and hit .229 ISO the season before. If that's the kind of hitter the Giants are getting, Morse will easily make those incentives.
Morse strikes out a lot, but not an overwhelming amount, and he slumped big-time in 2013, splitting time between Seattle and Baltimore in part because of injuries. Here's what Giants manager Bruce Bochy said about him in the San Francisco Chronicle:
“If he’s healthy, he’ll be out there,” Bochy said in a phone interview, adding Gregor Blanco will be the fourth outfielder and able to sub for Morse late in games.
Morse is not a great defender and struggled with a wrist injury last season (requiring postseason surgery), hitting .201 in 64 games after May 1. He had a quadriceps injury early in the season.
“I just think it’s a great fit for us. We need a right-handed bat with power,” said Bochy, who managed Morse in the Taiwan All-Star Series in 2011.
He's right about the Giants needing the offense. Eleventh in the National League in runs scored, the Giants were outscored 691-629 in 2013. The deal becomes official once Morse passes a physical. At that point, Morse will become a giant Giant.
If you'd like to read what it was like for Morse to get traded from the Mariners to the Orioles in Morse Code, click here.
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