Mike Morse – Trade Bait?

It was a quiet day in the Baseball Prospectus chat room, because Steven Goldman answered multiple Nats questions, including two from me about Mike Morse. Here’s what was asked, and what he said:

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Mike Morse – has he really turned into a 870-ish OPS hitter who can bat against righties? Other than this year’s April slump, he’s been doing this since the beginning of last year. Am I allowed to start believing in this?

Steven Goldman: I very much doubt it lasts, and as much as he’s propping up the lineup right now, I would be looking to see if someone was willing to overpay for that by the deadline.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Re: Mike Morse – it’s now been 472 PAs of .867 OPS over two seasons. How much longer would he need? Or is it so far out of the realm of possibility because of his age? He’s got a career OPS of .820, and 30% of those PAs came from his .718 age 23 season.

Steven Goldman: Well, I like what he’s done. He’s hit .300/.352/.511 since that season you mention in 608 scattered PAs. He has real value given that he can move around the field and knock the ball. But his 39 walks/140 strikeouts makes me nervous about the inevitable cold streaks or bad BABIP stretch, because players of this model, be they Robinson Cano or Alfonso Soriano, when they go cold, they just contribute nothing. Put that together with his age and that he should be up for arb after the season and I think, “Go fish.”

My first thought was that he was out of his mind, that Morse has been doing this for over a year now, and should be part of the future. But he is 29 right now, and will be arbitration eligible again this winter. They can control him until the end of the 2013 season, which means two more full years of him. If he keeps his season numbers near where they’re at now, it’ll cost them quite a bit more to keep him 2012 and 2013. So, assuming teams would want a guy who’s hitting something like .280/.340/.520 and can play 1B or a corner OF and is still relatively cheap for a couple of years, the Nats could decide to turn him around for something quite good. Should they?

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3 thoughts on “Mike Morse – Trade Bait?

  1. Let’s hope that either Marrero or Moore or SOMEONE in the farm system will be able to play 1b in 2013. Morse has looked as good at First as LaRoche and certainly better than many of the other people who have played the position, including Dunn, Dmitri Young, etc. My question is what to do when LaRoche heals.

  2. “…a guy who’s hitting something like .280/.340/.520 and can play 1B or a corner OF and is still relatively cheap for a couple of years…”

    Why wouldn’t the Nationals be the kind of team that wants a 1B like that? Isn’t that basically a poor-man’s LaRoche? I feel like that’s exactly the kind of value player the Nationals should be pursuing, instead of throwing $100MM+ at someone like Prince Fielder, who is going to start his decline soon.

    Maybe if we could get a slew of above average prospects for a package of Marquis and Morse, it would be worth it. And I feel strongly Marquis should (and will) get moved at the deadline. But it’s not like Morse is going to cost us as much as Maya, even.

  3. I’m not even sure if calling him the poor man’s LaRoche gives him enough credit. The last season and a half, Morse has hit better than LaRoche has hit in all but one year.

    The question that puzzles me – and there’s probably no way of knowing – is whether Morse is not really this good, and should be traded at the height of his value. I’m leaning towards no, that the Nats could really use him for the next 3 years and he could really help them win. But it’s not an answer I’m sure about.

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