One addition they could really use is a DH, preferably a power-hitting right-handed one who can also platoon at first base with the newly-acquired James Loney. Michael Morse could just be the guy.
After re-signing first baseman Adam LaRoche earlier this week, the Washington Nationals are now open to trading Morse, and have already discussed a potential deal with multiple teams according to Ken Rosenthal from Fox Sports.
Source: #Nationals speaking to 5-6 teams about Morse. Earning $7M this season, then eligible for free agency.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 8, 2013
It looks like the Rays could very possibly be one of teams in on him. The Nationals even reportedly believe the Rays would make great trade partners, according to MLB.com's William Ladson.
The 30-year-old outfielder has hit .296/.345/.516 with 64 homers and 198 RBI over the last three years, which is exactly the kind of offensive production the Rays need in their lineup. Morse is mainly a corner outfielder, but can also play a bit of first and third base as well.
Morse's poor defense is likely the reason why AL clubs seem to be more suitable to acquire him as a designated hitter. The problem with that, however, is that Morse is strongly opposed to playing DH according to Rosenthal. Knowing how much the Rays value defense, Morse would have to accept playing that position if the team were to sign him.
It's clear that Morse would be a great fit for the Rays, but is he affordable for Tampa Bay's small budget? Morse is under a contract that will make him $7 million in 2013 before he becomes a free agent after the season.
Considering that the contract is only for one more year, I believe picking up a quality DH who can supply 20-plus-home-run power as well as platoon at first base is definitely worth the money and will without a doubt improve the Rays' chances of contending this season.
What would a potential Mike Morse deal include? In exchange for the slugger, the Nats are reportedly looking for a left-handed reliever and/or prospects, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden.
Nationals looking for LH relief help and/or prospects to help replenish farm system in a Michael Morse swap according to #Nats source— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) January 8, 2013
Prospect southpaw Alex Torres and lefty specialist Cesar Ramos instantly come to mind, and the Rays probably wouldn't be too reluctant to give up either of them.
One thing's for sure, the chances of Morse being traded this winter are pretty high. Washington does not want sit a $7 million dollar player on the bench instead of getting rid of his salary for prospect talent.
Andrew Friedman and the Rays are in prime position to make an aggressive move right here that would give the lineup a much-needed boost, and I say they take advantage of the opportunity.