The Seattle Mariners, Oakland A's and Washington Nationals agreed Wednesday to a three-team deal with Mike Morse being the centerpiece. Morse will pack his belongings and move back to the Great Northwest, becoming the newest addition to an improving Mariners lineup.
Minor-league pitchers A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen move from Oakland to Washington, and catcher John Jaso from Seattle to Oakland. The Nationals will also receive a player to be named later from Oakland.
Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik has made some quality moves this offseason in order to improve a lineup which averaged a paltry 3.82 runs per game in 2012 – last in the American League.
Morse's fantasy value certainly takes a hit with this trade, but it won't be as drastic as some experts claim. The 30-year-old slugger started last season on the DL with a strained back muscle and didn't make his debut until early June, but he still ended the year with 18 home runs while posting a line of .291/.321/.470 in just 102 games.
It's no secret that the towering Morse has immense power to all fields. He's hit 64 dingers in 346 games since 2010. Morse played his only full season in the bigs in 2011, when he suited up for 146 games. He proved that his blazing-hot second half in 2010 was no fluke as he hit 31 homers and drove in 95 runs while posting a .303/.360/.550 stat line.
Morse, or The Beast as he is known, began his Major League career in Seattle back in 2005. He played in 107 games for the Mariners over a four-year span and hit an even .300 while homering just three times.
Let us not forget that the Seattle organization finally decided to move the fences in for the 2013 season. Last year, the expansive Safeco Field proved to be a nightmare for hitters. It was the second-hardest ballpark in which to hit a home run. With the new modifications (seen below), it should be easier for right-handed power hitters like Morse to find success at Safeco.
With the addition of Morse, Seattle's new and improved lineup could be sneaky good. Newly acquired slugger Kendrys Morales will provide some much-needed protection for Morse, while Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak should each have better years. Smoak was having a dreadful 2012 campaign until he finally woke up down the stretch – five home runs, 11 RBIs and a line of .341/.426/.580 over the last 26 games.
Morse is scheduled to make $5.25 million in this, the final year of his contract – so there's even more incentive for him to stay on the field and produce at a high level in 2013.
The other piece of this trade that we can't overlook is catcher John Jaso, who will move from Seattle to Oakland.
Jaso is a terrific defensive catcher who has long been undervalued at the plate as well. The 29-year-old had a breakout season in 2012, quietly posting his best offensive numbers ever. In 108 games, the left-handed hitting backstop batted .276 with 10 home runs and 50 RBIs while posting an impressive OBP of .394.
Jaso could see the majority of time as Oakland's starting catcher, but at the very least will platoon and play against right-handed pitchers. He could be a terrific late-round flyer or waiver-wire pickup this season, so keep your eye on Jaso going forward.
The Mariners get: Another veteran hitter who brings a powerful bat to help cure the team's offensive inadequacies. Morse will pair up with Morales to form a nice 1-2 combo in the middle of the Seattle lineup.
The A's get: A solid catcher who will be charged with handling the young pitching staff of the A's. Jaso could post some nice offensive numbers if he gets full playing time, especially at a thin position like catcher.
The Nationals get: Organizational depth. Back in November, the 20-year-old Cole was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the A's organization.
Fantasy players helped by this deal:
Dustin Ackley, 2B, SEA
Kyle Seager, 3B, SEA
Justin Smoak, 1B, SEA
Kendrys Morales, 1B/DH, SEA
Fantasy players hurt by this deal:
Jesus Montero, C/DH, SEA
Derek Norris, C, OAK