Michael Morse has been a big part of the Washington Nationals' success over the past two seasons. The outfielder and first baseman is one of the most-liked players in Washington, and is good in the clubhouse as well.
But there are a number of factors that may influence Morse's future with the Nationals. The slugger has dealt with injuries, and has only one year left on his contract.
The outfield free-agent crop is extremely deep this season as well, which doesn't help Morse's outlook with the team. If Washington can land one of them, Morse would become expendable.
Washington would be wise to continue building for their future and try to trade Morse this offseason.
Morse made his major league debut in 2005 for the Seattle Mariners, getting 230 at-bats in 72 games. But over the next four seasons, Morse never had more than 60 at-bats in a season, and didn't crack 100 games played in a season until 2011, with the Nationals.
2011 was Morse's breakout campaign, when he hit .303 and slugged 31 home runs. In 2012 his numbers dipped as he battled injuries, but he still managed .291 with 18 home runs.
The 6'5" right-handed hitter isn't exactly proven, but he's done enough over the past two seasons to make him worth a decent amount to teams in need of offense. At 30 years old, his trade value will never be higher than it is right now.
There's nothing more concerning about a player than a significant injury history, and Morse has had a number of different injuries over the years.
In 2006, Morse had knee surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus. In 2008, he had surgery on a torn labrum. This past season, he started the season on the disabled list with a strained back that caused him to miss the first 50 games of the season.
It isn't a huge issue at this point, but it's definitely not encouraging as Morse is now on the wrong side of 30.
Morse has just one year remaining at $6.75 million on his current contract. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo will have a decision to make because of the big contract Morse is almost sure to command next offseason.
With Washington tied up in a number of other big deals, the money won't be there to re-sign Morse unless he takes a big pay cut to stay.
While they would get draft picks as compensation, the Nationals would get a lot more in return for a trade this offseason. They could go for a one-for-one deal and try to nab a young, MLB-ready starting pitcher who could boost the rotation for years to come, which would help Washington both now and in the future.
When everything is all said and done, however, Morse's fate may be determined by the moves made around him. If Adam LaRoche re-signs with the club, that will be the first major step towards Morse becoming expendable.
Washington has been confirmed to have contacted B.J. Upton, and Angel Pagan and Michael Bourn could definitely enter the mix too.
If any of those guys is signed, it would make Morse the odd man out with the new free agent joining Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth in the outfield, and LaRoche locking down Morse's other position, first base.