Michael Morse Rumors
The Nationals want to settle their negotiations with Adam LaRoche, and could press for resolution soon, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. Though general manager Mike Rizzo wouldn’t issue the free agent first baseman an ultimatum, he might deliver “something close to it.”
The Nationals made LaRoche a two-year offer earlier in the offseason after he declined a qualifying offer. Rizzo could tell LaRoche that the Nationals intend to proceed with internal options if he doesn’t accept their offer, Kilgore writes. If LaRoche signs elsewhere -- teams such as the Orioles and Rangers could be interested -- the Nationals would rely on Michael Morse at first base. If LaRoche accepts the Nationals’ offer, Morse would become a trade candidate. LaRoche wants a three-year deal, but he’s tied to draft pick compensation, which could be limiting his free agent value.
The Nationals aren’t worried about the possibility of another team offering LaRoche a three-year deal, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reported today (Twitter links). In that scenario the Nationals would obtain a compensatory draft pick from the signing team. The Nationals won’t give LaRoche a three-year deal, according to Bowden, the team’s former GM.
7:10pm: Multiple Nats officials are telling Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (Twitter link) that the team has an informal Christmas deadline to resolve LaRoche's situation. The Nats remain optimistic he'll sign, though Jim Bowden tweets that the team has resolved not to go past two years.
6:49pm: The Nationals have been telling people they hope to get LaRoche signed by week's end, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark, but they still don't want to guarantee more than two years.
4:36pm: The Nationals remain confident they'll re-sign first baseman Adam LaRoche, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. He says that might lead to the Nationals sending Mike Morse to the Mariners, who have "big interest" in getting him back.
We heard yesterday that the Nationals are holding firm at a two-year offer with no option for LaRoche. LaRoche remains on Baltimore's radar, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, who also have interest in Morse.
In advance of his show this afternoon on SiriusXM, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and SiriusXM has been tweeting out a number of interesting tidbits from Nashville's Winter Meetings. Here are a few of the highlights from the former MLB GM (all links go to Twitter):
- Bowden views the Rangers and Red Sox as the frontrunners for Josh Hamilton, with the Yankees as a dark horse. He doesn't believe Hamilton would sign with the Mariners even if Seattle made the best offer.
- The Orioles, Mariners, and Rays could all approach the Nationals about trading bullpen help for Mike Morse if the Nats end up re-signing Adam LaRoche.
- Don't eliminate the Dodgers as a possible landing spot for Rafael Soriano, despite their multiyear commitment to Brandon League.
- After speaking with Reds manager Dusty Baker, Bowden believes Aroldis Chapman may be closing again in 2013 if it's Baker's call, which would affect Cincinnati's offseason plans. Of course, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes (on Twitter) that the decision isn't expected to be up to Baker.
With Day Two of the Winter Meetings underway, let's round up a few notable links related to AL East clubs....
- As they continue to search for a big bat, one name on the Orioles' shopping list is Mike Morse, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, who tweets that the O's have interest in the Nationals slugger. We heard yesterday that Baltimore's interest in Morse was "lukewarm" and that GM Mike Rizzo hadn't been in contact with the Orioles yet in Nashville, though that could change.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com examines the possibility of the Red Sox trading a catcher in the wake of the Mike Napoli signing, noting that the Mariners, Mets, Yankees, White Sox, and Dodgers are among the teams looking to add a backstop.
- While Joel Sherman of the New York Post acknowledges that the Yankees would listen to offers on Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes, he notes that team executives say the goal is still to win in 2013, and that replacing Granderson's and Hughes' production in the short-term would be tricky (Twitter links).
Nationals outfielder/first baseman Mike Morse may be available via trade, especially if the team re-signs Adam LaRoche. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says he's received a lot of calls on Morse, though the general manager has not made calls on the player. The latest:
- The Mariners are open to a reunion with Morse, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morse was dealt to the Ms in 2004, but failed to establish himself and was sent to the Nationals in '09.
- The Orioles' interest in Morse is lukewarm, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. Rizzo told reporters he has not had contact yet with the Orioles at the Winter Meetings.
We heard overnight that the Rays and Nationals were exploring the possibility of a trade that would send Danny Espinosa to Tampa. While multiple reporters have suggested those talks haven't gained much momentum, Espinosa remains a trade candidate. Here are the latest rumblings related to the Nats infielder:
- At least one team besides the Rays called the Nats about Espinosa, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, who adds that any talks are being initiated by other teams.
- The Nationals are more willing to trade Mike Morse than Espinosa, with GM Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson still steadfast supporters of Espinosa, writes Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com.
- Many members of the Nats organization are reluctant to trade Espinosa, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. "He will figure it out," one source told Rosenthal. "[Steve] Lombardozzi is a good player, but he’s not Espinosa."
- The Nationals haven't ruled out the possibility of moving Anthony Rendon to second base if they decide to trade Espinosa, tweets MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
7:33am: There is currently no traction in trade discussions between the two sides, tweets Olney.
7:24am: Olney's colleague, Jayson Stark, reports that a source familiar with the talks says a trade sending Espinosa and Morse to Tampa Bay is unlikely despite the logical fit (Twitter link).
6:41am: ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that Rizzo is aiming high in his talks with the Rays about their pitchers.
12:44am: The Rays are nearing a one-year deal with James Loney, but the team is also discussing the possiblity of a trade with the Nationals that would involve starting pitching for Danny Espinosa and Michael Morse, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (Twitter link).
Morse would represent a major offensive upgrade from Carlos Pena at first base, or he could slot into left field with Desmond Jennings taking over B.J. Upton's old position of center field. Espinosa could help the Rays at either middle infield position, where they've had a bit of a carousel in recent years.
Both Jeremy Hellickson and James Shields have been mentioned frequently as potential trade chips for Rays GM Andrew Friedman. It's also been reported that David Price could be had for the right offer, though the asking price (no pun intended) there would undoubtedly be sky-high.
The Nationals have some infield flexibility given the presence of Steve Lombardozzi, and they could handle the loss of Morse's bat if general manager Mike Rizzo is able secure a new contract with Adam LaRoche.
The Nationals’ trade for Denard Span will impact the entire Washington roster, not only in the outfield, but on the infield. The Nationals are “definitely shopping” first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse a little bit, an American League executive told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (Twitter link). If the Nationals trade Morse, they could re-sign free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche and rely more on Tyler Moore.
The Nationals have considerable leverage, as ESPN.com’s Buster Olney explains (on Twitter). Speaking of the Span trade, some executives believe the Twins didn’t get enough in the deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Though pitching prospect Alex Meyer is highly regarded, Span had three years of team control remaining.
The Nationals avoided the busy free agent center field market by acquiring Denard Span from the Twins today in exchange for highly-touted pitching prospect Alex Meyer. Here is some of the early buzz about the trade and how it affects the Nationals, Twins and several other teams around the league...
- The trade seems to leave Adam LaRoche without a spot in the Nationals' lineup, meaning the first baseman could go elsewhere as a free agent. In a conference call with reporters (including Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider), Washington GM Mike Rizzo said the trade "gives us some options" with player moves and noted that the team is still talking to LaRoche. Rizzo said teams have called about Michael Morse, so the Nats could potentially re-sign LaRoche and deal Morse instead.
- While a Morse trade is a possibility, some executives feel the Span deal will lead to LaRoche signing with the Red Sox, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports looks at how the trade impacts LaRoche, Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton and the Phillies.
- The trade was "a huge win" for the Nationals, opines Fangraphs' Dave Cameron, who thinks Minnesota could've gotten more than Meyer in exchange for an affordable center fielder. "The Twins got a real talent back in return for Span, but it’s a talent with too many question marks to be the piece they’re getting back in return for a three win player under team control at a fraction of his market price," Cameron writes.
- Conversely, ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required) likes the trade for the Twins. The club sorely needs young pitching and Meyer's potential is worth "an average regular in center whose value will fluctuate with his BABIP," as Law describes Span. Law also notes that this deal should help the Rockies get more in a trade for Dexter Fowler, as Fowler is younger and has more power than Span.
Here's the latest from FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal as he dissects the buzz and rumors currently circulating around the league...
- The addition of two former members from the Rays organization has nothing to do with a potential pursuit of center fielder B.J. Upton, says Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
- While some teams may prefer Upton over Michael Bourn thanks to his age (nearly two years younger) and the ability to hit for power, Rosenthal points out that Bourn's value comes from being a well-rounded player.
- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche's decision regarding his free agency may greatly impact Washington's course of action this offseason, especially with left fielder Michael Morse.
- The notion that the Dodgers may consider moving Andre Ethier just months after signing him to a five-year, $85MM contract simply wouldn't be the best move for Los Angeles heading into 2013, opines Rosenthal.
- Look for the Yankees to re-sign Russell Martin, but the Bombers have had their eye on free agent David Ross, who has served as Brian McCann's backup with the Braves since 2009.
- The Cardinals and second baseman Skip Schumaker may be parting ways this offseason as the veteran no longer has a defined role with the club thanks to the emergence of young talent.