The San Francisco Giants were able to sign a legitimate free-agent left fielder without trading any of their top prospects and without giving up any draft picks.
With the pending signing of Michael Morse, Giants GM Brian Sabean left the 2013 winter meetings successful in his mission. Morse will reportedly sign a one-year, $5 million deal with incentives pending a physical, according to ESPN.
Morse is an everyday option in left field, a clear upgrade from a platoon involving Gregor Blanco. More consistency in the lineup will help turn around a franchise that went a disappointing 76-86 last season.
The right-handed-batting Morse adds power to the lineup as well. Morse has a career .281 batting average spanning a nine-year career. He also averages 23 home runs per season.
Manager Bruce Bochy, in an interview with John Shea of SFGate.com, said:
I'm excited about Morse. I just think it's a great fit for us. He's well worth the risk. He's a power guy, an RBI guy. Not too long ago, this guy had a great year, and he looks healthy.
Morse's health is one blemish on the deal. Last season, the outfielder played only 88 games between the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles due to injury. Another gamble: Morse has been suspended three times in the past for steroid use.
In 2005, during his rookie season with the Mariners, Morse was suspended 10 days for violating the MLB steroid policy. His two previous suspensions occurred in the minors in May and July of 2004.
Morse admits to using steroids in November of 2003 to help heal from a previously torn thigh muscle, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN).
Hopefully, this was, as claimed, a one-time transgression and Morse will avoid the same fate as former Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera.
While Sabean did find the Giants a legitimate, everyday left fielder, he has a few items on his shopping list to check off. He still needs to bolster the bullpen. As the offseason deals continue, look for Sabean to do just that.
Considering Sabean did not part with top prospect Kyle Crick or other top-tier prospects such as Clayton Blackburn and Edwin Escobar, and stayed true to his vow to not sign any free agent who refused a qualifying offer this season, the GM appears to have come through for the Giants.
It remains to be seen if Morse can continue to put up power numbers at AT&T Park, and if he can stay healthy. Sabean also has work to do in procuring a few right-handed arms to the bullpen.
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