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Michael Morse Rumors
With the clock ticking on the August revocable waiver trade market, here are the latest updates …
- Outfielder Michael Morse, who is suited up but not in the lineup for the Mariners tonight, is "almost certain" to join the Orioles in the immediate future, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The O's claimed Morse earlier today, giving the teams two days to work out a deal (or for Seattle to pull Morse back or allow Baltimore to assume his contract without compensation). As Baker explains, Morse no longer appears to be in the team's future plans, leaving little reason for the club to hold onto him. Just over $1MM remains on Morse's $6.75MM salary for this season.
- The Padres pulled back third baseman Chase Headley after he was claimed on waivers, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While that news is hardly surprising, given that Headley was reportedly placed on waivers back on August 20th, it does confirm that Headley did not clear waivers and will no longer be available this season. Headley, who will be entering his final season of team control, has failed to repeat his strong 2012 season but remains an attractive player going forward. Heyman notes that the Pads are expected to explore a multi-year extension with the 29-year-old over the coming off-season, and estimates that he could command a five-year, $75MM deal.
- The Red Sox could look to pick up a right-handed bullpen piece before Saturday's non-waiver trade deadline, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Manager John Farrell said that he is not concerned about the pen, but added that "if there's someone out there that makes sense for us to acquire, we might see that." On the other hand, Britton notes, a returning Clay Buchholz will likely allow the club to move righty Ryan Dempster to the bullpen. You may recall that Dempster once served as the Cubs' closer back in 2005-2007.
- While the Orioles have been busy making waiver claims, the Pirates have been the most aggressive team over the course of August, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Of course, the club recently added Marlon Byrd and John Buck, making further acquisitions seem unlikely. On the other hand, the Bucs are reportedly still interested in first baseman Justin Morneau.
Mariners outfielder/first baseman Mike Morse has been claimed off revocable trade waivers by the Orioles, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Morse is the second notable player claimed by Baltimore in as many days – last night they had the winning claim on the Twins' Josh Willingham.
Morse, 31, has struggled this season, posting a .226/.283/.410 slash line with 13 homers in 307 plate appearances. It's a significant dropoff for Morse, who boasted a career .295/.347/.492 line heading into this sesaon.
The 70-61 Orioles are in need of an offensive upgrade as they look to make their playoff push. They're not likely to leapfrog the Red Sox and Rays for the AL East crown, but they are just 4.5 games back of the A's for the final Wild Card spot. In total, Baseball Prospectus' number crunch gives them an 8.8% chance of making the postseason.
Here's Monday's list of players that have been placed on revocable trade waivers…
- Yovani Gallardo — Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) reports that Gallardo has been placed on waivers by the Brewers. The starter drew interest this summer as a player who could help not just for 2013, but beyond, as he is under contract for $11.25MM next season with a $13MM club option for 2015. Gallardo is having a down year, but he has had two strong starts against the Reds this month since coming off of the DL. For his career, Gallardo owns a 3.76 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
- Mike Morse — Rosenthal also reports that Morse was placed on waivers by the Mariners. Morse's teammate, Kendrys Morales, was claimed off of waivers earlier today, giving Seattle two bats to dangle to interested clubs. Will either player be moved? We can surmise that the M's held on to impending free agents like Morse, Morales, and Raul Ibanez with the idea of retaining them beyond this season. On the year, Morse owns a .227/.282/.414 slash line with 13 homers in 301 plate appearances – down from his career line of .285/.338/.480.
- Heath Bell — Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Bell, 35, has been placed on waivers. He came to the Diamondbacks from the Marlins this offseason in a three-team trade that also included the A's. Bell has rebounded, to an extent, from a rough 2012 season that saw him post a 5.09 ERA in his only season with the Marlins. He's pitched to a 3.88 ERA with 10.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 41.9 percent ground-ball rate. His HR/FB ratio is at a sky-high 17.2 percent, which has bloated his ERA. xFIP predicts that with a league-average HR/FB rate (roughly 11 percent), Bell would have an ERA of 3.05. His K/BB numbers and the fluky nature of high HR/FB rates suggest he's in for some improvement in the ERA department, but he's under contract for $9MM this season and again in 2014. The Marlins are picking up $8MM of that salary, but he'd be an expensive acquisition. I'd expect Bell to clear waivers.
- Javier Lopez — Heyman also tweets that the 36-year-old Lopez has been placed on waivers by the Giants. Lopez has a masterful 1.99 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a monstrous 64 percent ground-ball rate. He drew significant interest from multiple teams prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. San Francisco GM Brian Sabean reportedly had exorbitant asking price at the time, seeking top prospect Danny Salazar from the Indians in exchange for Lopez. A free agent at season's end, Lopez is owed roughly $813K over the remainder of the year and seems likely to be claimed.
For a reminder on how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR's August trades primer. You can see who is available to be traded to any team by checking MLBTR's list of players who have cleared waivers. Zach Links contributed to this post.
Though the Rangers worked to bolster their struggling lineup at the deadline, GM Jon Daniels felt the market for bats was thin, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. “There was not a lot out there really appealed to us,” he said. "Teams now are signing young players long-term and you aren’t getting the same caliber of player to free agency that you once did.” The Rangers rank ninth in the AL in runs per game but are 47-9 when scoring four or more runs, Grant notes. Here's more out of the AL West..
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik hinted that he hopes to re-sign some of the club's veterans, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. Jack Z inferrred that he didn't deal pending free agents Mike Morse or Kendrys Morales because he'd like them to be a part of the club going forward.
- The Astros inquired about Royals prospect Kyle Smith in talks last year before finally nabbing him in this week's Justin Maxwell trade, GM Jeff Luhnow tells Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Though his club wasn't aiming to trade Maxwell, the team jumped at the chance when Smith's name came up in talks, Luhnow says.
- The Rangers didn't add a bat, but the deadline wasn't a failure, writes Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com.
- While the Bud Norris deal leaves a hole in the Astros' rotation, they have some arms coming up through the minors including Brad Peacock and Asher Wojciechowski, notes MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
12:11pm: Saunders is not a target for the Orioles right now, hears Connolly.
10:57am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Orioles feel the asking prices remain too high in their pursuits of upgrades to their offense and rotation.
10:47am: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets that the O's kicked around the idea of acquiring Morneau but don't see a fit due to his contract and lack of production. Nothing has heated up in recent days, he adds.
Baltimore's interest in both players has been well-documented to this point, though they appear to have shown more interest in Norris than Morneau. Norris is controllable for two additional seasons and earning just $3MM in 2013, while the slumping Morneau is a free agent at season's end and is owed an additional $4.6MM through season's end.
12:00pm: Aside from the Rays and Orioles, three or four other teams are interested in Morse, according to Peter Gammons on MLB Network.
6:07am: Mariners outfielder/first baseman Mike Morse is very available, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Morse, 31, recently returned from a long layoff due to a quad strain and is headed for free agency after the season.
The general vibe so far has been that the Mariners are not motivated to strip down their team, even at 8.5 games out in the wild card. Morse, acquired from the Nationals in January, has a .246/.307/.445 line in 231 plate appearances. From 2010-12, he hit .296/.345/.516 in 1,298 plate appearances for the Nats, so he has the potential to be the impact bat the trade market seems to be lacking with nine hours to go until the deadline.
The Mariners are in active trade discussions involving closer Tom Wilhelmsen and reliever Oliver Perez, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Orioles are actively pursuing Perez and Mike Morse, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, and would like to acquire both. The Rays are interested in Morse, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com names the Orioles as a primary team involved in talks for the Phillies'Michael Young, along with the Rangers and Red Sox. The versatile Young appears to make the most sense for Baltimore as a DH, Edes says. T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reported earlier this evening that the Rangers aren't planning to reunite with Young.
- A top Orioles scout was in Seattle this week as the Mariners took on the Twins, who have made Justin Morneau available, Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun reports. An industry source tells Connolly that the Orioles have asked the Twins about the former MVP, who will earn about $6MM over the rest of the season, though the talks are considered "preliminary." As Connolly notes, DH might be Baltimore's biggest hole.
- The O's have liked Seattle's Mike Morse for years, Connolly adds. Morse, 31, is currently rehabbing a quadriceps injury in Triple-A, but has hit .251/.313/.454 in 227 plate appearances so far this year, appearing mainly in the outfield. Connolly also says the O's could add still another arm, potentially a lefty for a late-inning role, noting that the Mariners'Oliver Perez could fit that bill. However, "the sense within the organization" is that the Orioles might be done shopping, as the team is hesitant to add payroll and won't send top prospects in a deal for a rental player.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
7:17pm: The Rangers have no plans to bring back Young, major league sources tell T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. A trade for the infielder "is not going to happen."
12:56pm: The Phillies and Rangers have had discussions about a trade shipping infielder Michael Young back to Texas, reports ESPN's Jayson Stark. We learned yesterday from CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman that the Rangers were considering Young internally. Talks have been "exploratory" in nature, says Stark, and the clubs are not close to an agreement.
For the Rangers, Stark echoes recent reports that the team is focused on acquiring a right-handed bat. With Texas focused primarily on nabbing a player who can man the outfield, he says that Young is more of a back-up option. In addition to other players previously linked to the Rangers — such as Alex Rios of the White Sox, Hunter Pence of the Giants, Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins, and Kendrys Morales of the Mariners – Stark notes that Seattle's Michael Morse is on Texas's radar.
On the Philadelphia side of the ledger, sources tell Stark that the Phils have indicated an increasing willingness to listen on veterans after the team's recent slide. The names that could generate attention include — unsurprisingly — Young, catcher Carlos Ruiz, closer Jonathan Papelbon, and ace Cliff Lee. (We learned about Lee's potential availability yesterday.) As has long been been the case, Young is believed to be the most likely among those players to swap teams before the deadline. Other potential suitors for Young include the Yankees, Red Sox, and Reds.
Here are a few National League notes as we head into the weekend:
- Padres utilityman Alexi Amarista has switched his representation to Martin Arburua, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Per MLBTR's Agency Database, Amarista was formerly represented by Proformance. The 24-year-old, who has slashed .280/.309/.452 in 98 plate appearances thus far in 2013, is set to be arbitration eligible beginning in 2015.
- The Nationals are approaching opt-out deadlines for two left-handed relievers that are currently stashed in the minors, explains James Wagner of the Washington Post. Both J.C. Romero and Bill Bray are eligible to elect free agency in June if they are not added to the big league roster. While Washington still has uncertainty in its lefty bullpen options, with Zach Duke scuffling and Fernando Abad only recently added to the squad, its decisions on Romero and Bray will be complicated by injuries to the two southpaws. Romero last saw action on May 8; Bray's last appearance was May 14. Of course, the Nats could always seek to extend those opt-out dates, which could be beneficial to both the team and the players.
- The major decision facing the Nationals this past offseason was whether to bring back free agent Adam LaRoche and, if so, what to do with slugging outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse. With over a quarter of the season in the bag, the Washington Post's Adam Kilogre looks back at the team's ultimate decision to re-sign LaRoche and send Morse to the Mariners. Given the way the season has developed, Kilgore posits, Morse would likely have already been able to achieve over 100 at-bats even with LaRoche in the fold. It is easy to second-guess the decision with Morse's solid start (.244/.310/.462 but with ten long balls) and the struggles of young power-hitter Tyler Moore (.121/.157/.227 and just one home run in 70 plate appearances). Nevertheless, Kilgore explains, the club was not only concerned with carrying Morse's salary and relegating a still-in-his-prime veteran to a secondary role, but needed to recoup some future value after dealing high-end prospect Alex Meyer for center fielder Denard Span.
- As Kilgore notes, the Nats not only landed high-upside pitching prospects A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen in the Morse trade, but also were entitled to a player-to-be-named later. The PTBNL turned into another arm, left-handed reliever Ian Krol, who has flashed promise in his time with the organization. Kilgore points out that Krol has given up only two runs over 22 2/3 innings while working out of the pen for the Nats' Double-A affiliate. The 22-year-old Krol adds another internal option to supplement the team's less-than-inspiring southpaw relief corps.