It's no secret that the Mariners have been desperate for solutions to their league-worst hitting in recent years. From moving in the fences at Safeco Field to aggressively pursuing top free agent batters, the M's have been determined to add pop and M's general manager Jack Zduriencik feels the team's latest addition of Michael Morse has helped solidify the lineup, amongst other offseason moves. Zduriencik told reporters during a conference call today that Morse's big bat was worth giving up a solid catcher like John Jaso.
"[Jaso] added a lot to our club last year but I think when you are in the position to acquire an everyday guy who has a chance to hit the ball hard and hit the ball far, I think it does change your game," Zduriencik said. "One of the things we have seen since I have been here is our lack of raw power; in Michael we have got a guy who has got big-time power.
Between Morse and the other additions, the Mariners suddenly have several options at DH, first base and the corner outfield spots, as young incumbents like Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders and Jesus Montero still need to find at-bats. In Montero's case, he will be expected to become the team's everyday catcher, though Zduriencik said he is looking for some veteran depth at the position.
"We're going to be shopping, there's no doubt," Zduriencik said. "We've already talked to some people and had some discussions with people….We like our catching in the organization and we've got some pretty good kids right on the horizon."
The foundation of the trade was developed when Zduriencik touched base with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo after the season and told him that he was interested in some of Washington's hitters. The two general managers reconvened recently since the Nats now had some hitting to spare with Adam LaRoche re-signed, and the A's were brought into the mix since Oakland GM Billy Beane had recently spoken to Zduriencik about Jaso's availability.
"It just became a three-team conversation," Zduriencik said. "So at the end we were able to satisfy what we wanted and I think Oakland was able to satisfy what they wanted and [Rizzo] got back prospects that he was seeking."
Morse, for his part, said he was very excited about returning to Seattle, where he spent the first four years of his Major League career before being dealt to the Nats before the 2009 season. With just a year left on his current contract, Morse just said "that's why I've got those agents" in regards to the possibility of talking about an extension, but he was clearly happy that the Mariners were the trade suitor that emerged to make the deal.
"I knew there were teams involved, I knew Seattle was one of them. That was one of the teams I was hoping for," Morse said. "I love it out there and I always felt…I had unfinished business in Seattle. I never got to prove myself as the player I could be or who I am. This is another opportunity for me to show Jack and help his ballclub be the World Series champion ballclub that it should be."
Morse said he was fully recovered from the back injury that forced him to spend the first two months of the 2012 season on the DL, even joking that he was feeling good enough to play shortstop for the first time since 2007. It was reported earlier this month that Morse wasn't keen on being a designated hitter but said that he was willing to play whenever the M's wanted him to play.
"I feel very comfortable at first base or in the outfield and it doesn't hurt to get a breather sometimes at DH," Morse said. "My main goal is to play every single game. I'm so excited, words can't describe what me and my family are going through right now."