Once again, the Seattle Mariners and their fans were left empty-handed when Josh Hamilton—this offseason's biggest free agent—elected to sign with the division rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Their four-year offer for $100 million was eclipsed by one year and another $25 million by the Angels, leaving the Mariners front office to re-group and figure out some other way to move forward.
Surely if they were willing to fork over $100 million to Hamilton, they intend to compete in 2013 and beyond.
If that was the intention before Hamilton chose sunny Anaheim over rainy Seattle, GM Jack Zduriencik should now be looking at other ways to improve for the upcoming season.
Seattle still needs another bat or two, and could use some help in the outfield.
Names like Cody Ross, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn are all still out there unsigned, but signing two of them may cost a little more than the Mariners are willing to give.
Instead, signing just one of those names (Cody Ross seems to be the be the flavor of the week for Seattle) and exploring the trade market would help Seattle keep some of their payroll flexibility and allow the team to still pick up the two bats they require.
One option that was mentioned at the winter meetings was Washington Nationals slugger Michael Morse.
It was Fox Sports baseball insider Jon Paul Morosi that tweeted of the Mariners' interest in the 30-year-old's services:
#Nationals remain confident they will get LaRoche. Morse then could be dealt to Mariners, who have big interest.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 5, 2012
While this may be contingent on Adam LaRoche re-signing with the Nationals, Seattle would be wise to aggressively pursue Morse.
Picking up Morse would work in a number of ways for the Mariners.
First and foremost, it would give them a much-needed boost to their starting lineup.
Over the course of the last three seasons, Morse has played 346 games, and has a .296 average, 64 home runs and 198 RBI over that span.
Secondly, Morse is set to become a free agent after next season. This means that the Ms will get the first crack at re-signing him, and also won't be burdened with his contract if he struggles or hurts himself again beyond the 2013 season.
Morse is set to earn under $7 million in 2013, and striking a deal with Washington (which shouldn't be too difficult considering Seattle's impressive farm system) would allow the team to add one of the bats they need at a reasonable cost.
That would give Zduriencik the chance to turn around and aggressively pursue a top-of-the-order bat like Michael Bourn without having to spare any expense.
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