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Michael Morse Rumors
Several MLB clubs have dabbled with neurological training in a bid to improve their hitters’ pitch recognition, as Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal writes. The Red Sox, Cubs, and Rays have already initiated programs, but more could be on the way. As Boston GM Ben Cherington explains, the purpose of taking this approach is to help young batters develop a stronger mental connection between seeing a pitch and deciding whether or not to swing. Quick reactions — physical and mental — are all the more important given rising fastball velocities around the league. One mark of that: at least 52 minor league hurlers have been clocked at or above 100 mph this year, according to the count of Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper.
Here are a few notes of interest from around the league:
- Twins center fielder Jordan Schafer has had an up and down time since becoming a professional, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes. Most recently, he was claimed by Minnesota over the summer after he failed to live up to a solid 2013 campaign with the Braves. The speedy 28-year-old has put up excellent numbers in his new home: a .298/.365/.386 slash with 15 stolen bases over 131 plate appearances. He will be eligible for arbitration for the second time after the year.
- As the Giants welcome back Michael Morse from injury, other developments could limit his playing time over the last few weeks of the regular season and the playoffs to come, as Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports. With Brandon Belt returning to the fold and Gregor Blanco having performed well in Morse’s stead, a regular spot may no longer be available. Though Morse rebounded from a mid-year swoon with a strong August, his defensive shortcomings have become more of an issue, according to Baggarly. Morse remains a difficult player to peg as a pending free agent: the 32-year-old has a productive .280/.338/.477 line with 16 home runs over 480 plate appearances, but defensive metrics paint a rough image of his contribution in the field.
- The Reds are still contemplating whether Cuban free agent signee Raisel Iglesias will take the mound competitively over the winter in Puerto Rico, reports MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Iglesias, a 24-year-old righty, has been working on strength and conditioning since inking a seven-year, $27MM deal with Cincinnati, and only just began long-tossing. He is under reserve with the Santurce Cangrejeros, and would throw for that club if he does play winter ball.
The Rangers and Yu Darvish would be wise to shut down the prized righty, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who says that the “macho baseball culture” that would suggest otherwise is simply wrong. As Passan rightly notes, minor injuries (like Darvish’s, according to reports) can often be a precursor to a more significant problem, and that risk is simply not worth it with Texas playing out a clearly lost season.
Here’s more from the game’s western divisions …
- Looking ahead to the offseason, the Giants face many impactful and emotionally difficult decisions on pending free agents, GM Brian Sabean said in an interview on The Sports Virus podcast. Emphasizing the club’s oft-noted loyalty, Sabean indicated that monetary constraints would play an important role in how the offseason unfolds (while also seemingly to imply that he could make a run at bringing back Michael Morse). “[A]t the end of the year, your starting third baseman, your closer, one of your starters, and your left fielder that you’ve fallen in love with has got a chance not to be back with the team, or you may have to pick and choose due to budget considerations,” he said. “… I don’t remember a year about to end … with those kind of decisions at hand, including keeping it all within a manageable budget.”
- Athletics GM Billy Beane said that his club’s recent struggles do not change the considerations that led him to deal away Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester, as John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group writes. “I’m happy to have Lester’s three wins,” said Beane. “Those are three wins I don’t know we’d have without him.”
- Diamondbacks hurler Patrick Corbin is likely not to return until June of next year, at the earliest, as Adam Lichtenstein of MLB.com writes. The club is taking a fairly conservative approach with its prized young lefty.
- Though Arizona surely has plenty of needs to address after a fairly miserable 2014 campaign, one fairly specific desire is to add an on-base machine to the lineup, GM Kevin Towers tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. “It would be nice to have another bat that was not only an offensive player, but somebody who works the count, gets on base and can create more scoring opportunities,” said Towers. The club is looking to find that package in an outfielder, Towers added, and has already begun scouting possible free agent or trade targets. Players like Nori Aoki and Chris Denorfia could fit the profile, says Piecoro.
There was some great news out of New Jersey today, as venerable Hinchliffe Stadium was designated a National Historic Landmark. As MLB.com's Mark Newman reports, the Art Deco structure is one of just a few still standing to have hosted Negro League action.
Here are some notes out of the National League:
- The Phillies are close to welcoming back Cole Hamels from the DL, reports CSNPhilly.com's Reuben Frank. Assistant GM Scott Proefrock said that the lefty may return as soon as next week. Needless to say, a healthy Hamels is absolutely critical if Philly has any hope of contending — and avoiding the need for a possible sell-off of veteran pieces — in 2014.
- Michael Morse has looked to be an excellent addition for the Giants in the early part of the season, writes Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News. The hot start for Morse has answered the question whether he could return to health, and validated manager Bruce Bochy's internal push for the slugger. For his part, Morse says he was guided to San Francisco by former Giant Mark DeRosa and 49er running back Frank Gore. While Morse is never going to look good in the outfield or on the basepaths, Bochy has managed that issue by frequently replacing the lumbering 32-year-old late in games. Morse will re-enter the open market after playing out his one-year, $6MM deal, and should be an interesting player to watch as the season goes on.
- Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall says it is too early to throw around blame for the team's rough start, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Hall said that "it's far too early to say" that either GM Kevin Towers or manager Kirk Gibson are in danger of losing their jobs. "I wouldn't say anybody's in trouble at this point." The tandem was extended over the offseason, but nevertheless could face hot seats if Arizona cannot turn around a 4-14 start that has left them already 7 games back in the division.
- Pirates second baseman Neil Walker has seen promising returns on his offseason work to revamp his swing from the right-handed side of the plate, writes Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Though he has just a few regular season plate appearances so far, the switch-hitting 28-year-old has continued the solid work he did off of southpaws during Spring Training. For his career, Walker has touched righties for a .799 OPS, but has only notched a .665 mark against lefties. Set to reach free agency after the 2016 season, Walker could significantly increase his utility, value, and potentially his extension candidacy if he can up his production from the right side.
DECEMBER 17th, 3:06pm: The Giants announced that the deal is official.
DECEMBER 12th, 9:59am: Morse's base salary is an even $6MM, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
9:15am: Morse will receive a base salary of roughly $5MM, and his contract contains additional incentives, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
8:41am: The Giants have agreed to sign Mike Morse, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area (on Twitter). John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that it's a one-year deal for Morse, who will serve as the Giants' left fielder (Twitter link).
Morse, who is represented by ACES, battled significant injuries in 2013 en route to a career-worst .215/.270/.381 batting line with 13 homers between the Mariners and Orioles. His 2010-12 seasons were a different story, however, as Morse posted a gaudy .296/.345/.516 batting line with 64 homers in 1298 plate appearances for the Nationals as a first baseman/outfielder.
The caveat with Morse is that even in his most productive seasons at the plate, he's still a defensively challenged player. Morse has a career UZR/150 of -18.3 in left field, meaning he'll need to return to his 2010-12 form at the plate to provide a significant level of all-around value to the Giants. Morse also has experience at first base, where he's a more passable defender, so the Giants could at least entertain the idea of flipping him and Brandon Belt if Morse's glove is too rough in the outfield.
Morse will join an outfield alignment that will have Hunter Pence starting in right field, Angel Pagan manning center field and Gregor Blanco likely seeing plenty of time as a late-inning replacement for Morse in a fourth outfielder's role.
Earlier today it was reported that the Giants still hoped to add a right-handed swinging outfielder. The Giants were said to be in negotiations with Jeff Baker as recently as yesterday afternoon, but clearly elected to go a different route.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Rangers made headlines today by selecting Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Before going on to NFL stardom, Wilson was selected by the Rockies as a second baseman in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, and Colorado retained its rights to Wilson until this morning. Wilson will report to Spring Training and talk to the Rangers' minor leaguers in a motivational capacity. "We decided if he ever wanted to play again, he'd be a guy that we'd want with us," Texas assistant GM A.J. Preller told reporters, including MLB.com's Richard Justice. The Wilson selection isn't a gimmick, ESPN's Richard Durrett writes, and Jon Daniels is excited to have Wilson's winning qualities in the organization, though Daniels stressed that the club isn't trying to distract Wilson from his NFL goals. Here's more out of the AL West…
- Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz remain unsigned, which is good news for the Rangers, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett writes. The Rangers like both players and are hoping that their asking prices drop the longer they stay on the market. Daniels said that his team's pursuit of Choo was "unchanged" from yesterday.
- There is a chance that Michael Young could rejoin the Rangers if both parties see a fit, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez tweets. Texas dealt its longtime franchise staple to the Phillies last offseason and Young was subsequently dealt to the Dodgers in August.
- Despite recent rumors linking the Angels to Matt Garza and Raul Ibanez, general manager Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times) that his team doesn't have any outstanding offers to free agents.
- In a special piece for FOX Sports, new Mariners first baseman/outfielder Logan Morrison wrote about the experience of being traded to a new team. Morrison's piece is particularly fascinating in that it was written prior to the trade that sent him to Seattle. LoMo says he doesn't have any ill feelings toward the Marlins organization, adding that contrary to public opinion, owner Jeffrey Loria was "great and generous" to Morrison and his family. Loria allowed Morrison and his family to use his personal plane to get to Kansas City for the funeral of Morrison's father.
- The Astros spoke to the Marlins about Morrison and also pursued Corey Hart and Mike Morse, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports. Jose Veras rejected the Astros' initial contract offer but the two sides still share a mutual interest in a reunion.
- The Yankees, Indians, Braves, Phillies, Blue Jays, Twins and Indians were all involved in trade talks for Brett Anderson before the Athletics sent the right-hander to the Rockies, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Brett Anderson | Corey Hart | Houston Astros | Jose Veras | Logan Morrison | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Matt Garza | Miami Marlins | Michael Morse | Michael Young | Nelson Cruz | Oakland Athletics | Raul Ibanez | Seattle Mariners | Shin-Soo Choo | Texas Rangers
The Astros are in serious discussions with Michael Morse, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Earlier today we learned that Astros skipper Bo Porter is pushing for Morse in Houston.
Morse, who hit just hit .215/.270/.381 last year, reportedly wants a $7MM or $8MM on a one-year deal. In Morse's defense, he battled significant injuries in 2013 en route to that career-worst slash line. He's quite familiar with Porter, who was the Nationals' third base coach from 2010-12 when Morse posted a strong .296/.345/.516 batting line with 64 homers in 1298 plate appearances.
Morse is a client of ACES, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.
A look at the AL West..
- The Mariners' plan for Corey Hart is to see time in the outfield and at DH and he's not necessarily slotted for first base despite his knee troubles, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
- Astros manager Bo Porter is pushing for Michael Morse in Houston, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Morse is said to be willing to do a one-year deal to re-establish his value.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels says that he has had a few conversations with Nelson Cruz's agent and will continue to talk with him, tweets Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com.
- The Angels aren't close to any free agents signings, so if Matt Garza is nearing a deal somewhere, it's not with the Halos, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.
Here are some quick notes from around the West divisions:
- The Mariners have interest in re-signing outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, likely to a one-year, incentive-based deal, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes. (Twitter links).
- M's GM Jack Zduriencik also says the Mariners might attempt to improve their outfield via trades, Divish tweets.
- The Dodgers are discussing Michael Young as a possible option in their infield, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times writes (via Twitter).
- Mike Morse wants $7MM or $8MM on a one-year contract, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets. That seems to be a lot to pay a player who hit .215/.270/.381 with poor defense last season. The Astros are reportedly among the teams interested in Morse.
- The Astros have also recently spoken with representatives of outfielder Grady Sizemore, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart writes (via Twitter). Sizemore, 31, last played in the big leagues in 2011.
- The Rockies are interested in both Morse and Young, the Denver Post's Troy Renck tweets.
- Now that the Mark Trumbo trade is complete, the Angels are likely to keep second baseman Howie Kendrick, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez tweets.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean says that if infielder Pablo Sandoval comes to spring training in good shape, the Giants would consider signing Sandoval to an extension, MLB.com's Chris Haft tweets.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels says free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz doesn't owe the Rangers special consideration despite missing 50 games in 2013 after being suspended, reports ESPN's Richard Durrett. "He had a decision to make," says Daniels. "[W]e all understood the position he was in. I can’t speak for everybody, but I don’t view it that way. I don’t think he owes us." Cruz could have appealed his suspension and continued to play for the Rangers last season, but he chose not to.
- If the Diamondbacks are unable to trade for a pitcher, they could pursue Matt Garza, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert tweets.
4:22pm: There's mutual interest between Morse and the Astros, tweets Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.
4:10pm: MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports that the Astros are interested in outfielder/first baseman/DH Mike Morse as well as right-handers Jesse Crain and Chad Gaudin. Additionally, according to McTaggart, right-hander Jose Veras would like to return to the Astros after being traded to Detroit in July and having his club option declined following the season.
Morse battled significant injuries in 2013 en route to a career-worst .215/.270/.381 batting line with 13 homers between the Mariners and Orioles. He's quite familiar with Astros manager Bo Porter, who was the Nationals' third base coach from 2010-12 when Morse posted a strong .296/.345/.516 batting line with 64 homers in 1298 plate appearances.
Crain, who attended college in Houston, missed the final three months of the 2013 season after posting a historic scoreless streak. The 32-year-old allowed just three earned runs in 36 2/3 innings for the White Sox, averaging 11.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 en route to a pristine 0.74 ERA. Gaudin posted a strong 3.06 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 97 innings for the Giants, serving as both a reliever and a starter. Based on McTaggart's report, Houston seems to like him as a reliever.
Veras, who spent the first four months of the 2013 season as Houston's closer, he offered high praise for the Astros organization:
"It feels like family there. It’s a young team and they’re hungry to win. I feel part of the team. I doesn’t mater to me if we won or lose. When you play as a team and everybody cares, that’s the best part for me."
Veras posted a 3.02 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 62 2/3 innings between the Astros and Tigers, collecting a career-high 21 saves along the way.
It remains to be seen whether or not Masahiro Tanaka will be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles, but if he is and the Diamondbacks have yet to address their starting pitching needs, expect Arizona to place a bid on the Japanese right-hander, tweets Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Here's more on the D-Backs and a pair of their NL West rivals:
- Kevin Towers and the D-Backs don't mind waiting on Eric Chavez, who is deciding where he wants to play and monitoring Arizona's moves, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link).
- Asked about the possibility of trading Archie Bradley, Towers suggested today that it would be "very, very tough" for the D-Backs to do so, tweets Gilbert.
- The Padres have interest in Scott Downs, among other southpaw relievers, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. San Diego's Josh Byrnes confirmed that the team is casting a wide net for bullpen help, indicating that he has touched base with "most" available left-handed relievers (Twitter link via Adam Berry of MLB.com).
- According to Berry (Twitter links), Byrnes said the Padres have weighed "six or eight ideas" and have meetings set up to discuss free agents and trades. Byrnes also shot down the latest round of Chase Headley rumors, stating that the team views the third baseman as part of its 2014 plans.
- Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area has some details on the Giants' search for an outfielder, tweeting that the Giants called three times on Norichika Aoki before the Brewers decided to send Aoki to the Royals. In a second tweet, Baggarly says the Giants are interested in Michael Morse and Corey Hart, but probably not at the years and dollars those players will command.
- John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle provides a couple more Giants updates, reporting that no teams have inquired on San Francisco's five starters, but that the club's young pitching has drawn some interest. Shea adds that the team appears unlikely to bring back Chad Gaudin (Twitter links).