Extension Candidate: Michael Morse

Michael Morse's emergence for the Nationals began in 2010, when he hit 15 home runs in a half-season.  Given the chance to play every day in 2011, Morse's production more than held up.  The first baseman/left fielder hit .303/.360/.550 with 31 home runs in 575 plate appearances, snagging a couple of down-ballot MVP votes.


Morse turns 30 in March and has four years and 114 days of Major League service time.  Matt Swartz's projections for MLBTR call for approximately a $3.9MM salary for 2012, Morse's second time through arbitration.  The Nationals control him for the 2013 season as well.

Morse is represented by ACES, an agency that has shown an openness to extensions in the past.  Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has a few on his ledger as well, for Ryan Zimmerman and Sean Burnett.  As a player who will be 30 when the season begins with one full strong season on his resume, I imagine Morse will be more open than most to signing an extension two years away from free agency.

Comparables will be hard to come by.  Two players who signed three-year deals with between four and five years of service might be factors: Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Pena.  Cuddyer and Pena signed three-year extensions for about $24MM in January of 2008, guaranteeing two arbitration years and one free agent season.  Cuddyer's contract had a club option for a second free agent season.

Cuddyer and Pena actually weren't directly comparable.  Cuddyer was not coming off his best season, and had accumulated his service in a normal way.  Pena was coming off a monster 46 home run, 121 RBI campaign after spending most of 2006 in the minors.  Morse's platform year sits between that of Cuddyer and Pena, and his career AVG/OBP/SLG tops Pena if batting average is considered.  However, Morse gets crushed in career counting stats, having only one full season to his credit.  Morse has 383 career games and 1260 plate appearances, compared to 600+ games and 2300+ plate appearances each for Cuddyer and Pena.  Plus, Cuddyer and Pena signed four years ago.

Morse, ACES, and the Nationals might have to forge somewhat new territory.  I propose $3.5MM for 2012, $6MM for 2013, and $9MM for 2014, for a total of $18.5MM over three years.  The Nationals will probably want a club option for a fourth year, perhaps at $10MM.  If the $18.5MM range seems low, remember that Morse earned only $1.35MM in 2011 and his 2012-13 salaries will stem from that amount.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

31 Responses to Extension Candidate: Michael Morse Leave a Reply

  1. Chuck Norris 3 years ago

    Take a chance , lock him up early.

    • Guest 3 years ago

      yeeah!! me MIKE MORSE…I MURDER BALL!!!  NOW PAY ME!!!!!….pay that man!!!!!

  2. RVANatsMama 3 years ago

    Its a real joy to watch Morse play. I hope to see him in a Nats uniform for years to come.

  3. WolandJR 3 years ago

    I still can’t believe that this guy was traded straight up for Ryan Langerhans.

    • Nicholas Stuart 3 years ago

      Yeah, in hind sight a terrible move.  That said, look at his numbers prior to the trade (minors included).  No one could have predicted the jump in production he took 2010.

      • WolandJR 3 years ago

        Agreed. But I still love it.

      • Mikeschoolerforever 3 years ago

        Actually us Mariner fans were not happy with this trade when it went down. His numbers weren’t the best but they’d bring him up for a week then send him back down. They would bounce him around at positions or sit him on the bench for a week or two at a time. One of jack Z’s worst moves so far! Most real fans saw the potential with Morse but I’m glad he has found a home with the Nats. Wish he was still with the mariners, not going to lie!

    • KingofKauff 3 years ago

      He’s tested positve 3 times for steroid use.

  4. WolandJR 3 years ago

    The Nats should also add in some performance based incentives for MVP, AS appearances, SS awards, etc. That could help to keep the deal’s AAV down while also ensuring the Morse is properly compensated if he is somehow able to continue his awesome production.

  5. diesel2410 3 years ago

    I think Morse would be a good fit for Tampa. Maybe we can try and get him along with Desmond with a package of Upton, Davis and a couple prospects

    • Guest 3 years ago

      I dont think so, it seems that washington is more in a win soon mode than anything.

      • diesel2410 3 years ago

        It doesn’t really hurt them now though. Morse’s value is the highest it will ever be. Upton will be playing for a contract and Davis is a solid 3rd starter

        • FS54 3 years ago

          a) If Morse’ value is the highest right now, why would Tampa want him? He is definitely not a replacement for Upton who is better defensively at more demanding position.
          b) Why Nationals move him and create another hole in the lineup when offense is their weakest link?c) What do Nationals do with Davis when they have Lannan or Detwiler or CMW to occupy two of the spots in their rotation?
          d) If Davis is a number 3 starter (which I don’t buy), why is Tampa overpaying for Morse and Desmond in terms of talent and years?

          • diesel2410 3 years ago

            Because Tampa needs offense and has an abundance of pitching…not rocket science

          • FS54 3 years ago

            Who is going to be Tampa’s CF? And you seriously don’t think that this is an overpay for Morse and Desmond?

          • Alex Mullen 3 years ago

            Desmond Jennings would most likely be the CF in this scenario

          • diesel2410 3 years ago

            Jennings would slide over to CF. And a Morse, Desmond and a prospect for Upton, Davis would be a good haul for both sides. 

          • FS54 3 years ago

            Like I said before, Nationals need hitting. There is no point in them parting with Morse. Upton is not an upgrade offensively over Mikey.

          • diesel2410 3 years ago


          • FS54 3 years ago

            Personally, I don’t like him because of his inconsistent offense and defense. Also his demands could handicap Nationals in long-term. Besides nationals did not sign Dunn because they were worried about his defense. I don’t see why sign Fielder who does not fit Rizzo’s athletic players.

          • diesel2410 3 years ago

            If Fielder could sign for 7/180, would the Nats bite? Seems like he’s a good fit. I’d sacrifice the defense to get that bat though. Nats would probably make the playoffs

    • I could say the same for the Indians.

  6. Redbirds16 3 years ago

    What’s Morse’s incentive to sign an extension that leaves him on the free agent market at a relatively late age? If I’m Morse, I either get a strong 3 contract that has an easy vesting option for a 4th and 5th year, or I test the free agent market as soon as possible. Players really only have one opportunity to truly cash in on their talent.

    • jaguarslover 3 years ago

      The one advantage for Morse to sign a multi-year deal now is that he can lock in that $20m or so and be “set” for life. He might get a 4 or 5 year deal after the ’13 season, but I doubt it and much can go wrong in the next two season, including finding himself benched/traded in favor of Fielder or Rendon at 1b and Harper & Werth in the OF. I bet he’d take the 3/$19m deal proposed here and hope to get another multi year deal at a higher AAV at 33 IF he continues to produce. going to an AL team to DH to end his career is also a viable option…

  7. letsgonats 3 years ago

    Agree. Mike Morse is a joy to watch as a fan.  His enthusiasm is great.   Beast mode!

  8. garylanglais 3 years ago

    This doesn’t seem like a situation in which either party would be too excited to jump into an extension.  If I’m the Nats I’m perfectly fine with going year-to-year knowing I could get fantastic production for a 2 year/$12m deal MAX.  On the other hand, if I’m Morse I only have one shot at a long term FA deal and the later I wait the less total value I can get on the open market.  If he goes year-to-year he will be 32 on Opening Day 2013 (season following his FA offseason).  He needs to get to FA at that time if he is going to maximize his earnings.  If he goes any later he’s looking at 3 year deals with questions of whether his prime is already over.  I dont see an extension happening here.

    • rikersbeard 3 years ago

      or Morse might be thinking that he is moving past his prime and should snag whatever guaranteed money he can while he can.

  9. Jim McGrath 3 years ago

    Morse would be a good fit for the Red Sox—How about Carl Crawford and Bard?
    or Crawford and Buchholz? for Morse and a AAA Prospect?

    • Guest 3 years ago

      no thanks.you can keep that crappy crawford contract…….

  10. kevmill21 3 years ago

    i know very little about morse.  im just slightly surprised at the lack of hesitation from any nationals fan.  he could keep the home run total and still slip to .260/.320/.500 or so. i think there’s too much risk against too little savings.  if i thought there was even a hope of putting up those type of numbers at a more premier position, the increased savings would make me gamble a little more .  i dunno.

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