Oct 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants designated hitter Michael Morse hits a RBI single against the Kansas City Royals in the fourth inning during game seven of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
While the Cincinnati Reds were bumbling through the 2014 season, the San Francisco Giants were busy drifting in and out of contention, finally skittering into the playoffs as a Wild Card team. A month later, of course, the Giants were holding the World Series trophy, and one of the guys who helped them get there was leftfielder/first baseman Michael Morse. Now, Morse is a free agent, and the Reds need an upgrade in the outfield, so the two have been linked through the MLB Hot Stove.
Here’s how that potential marriage looks, in theory at least.
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Why He’s Available
The Giants signed Morse last winter to a one-year contract for $6 million, a deal that was essentially a flyer on Morse’s offensive potential after several inconsistent, injury-plagued years with the Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. Morse delivered enough at the plate for MLBTradeRumors.com to predict he will land a two-year, $22-million deal on the open market. That’s enough cash to put Morse on the Giants’ back burner as they try to re-sign Pablo Sandoval.
Why He Fits for the Reds
When Morse is on the field, he’s a really good hitter, having smashed 16 homers with 61 RBI in 2014 to go along with a .279/.336/.475 slash line in 131 at bats for the Giants. Morse can play in left field and at first base, which means he could step right into the Reds’ LF hole and could also spell Joey Votto with the first baseman’s balky legs act up again.
Why He Might NOT Fit for the Reds
As attractive as Morse’s bat is, he comes with a long list of negatives, starting with the fact that he has never played more than 146 games in a season and has bested the century mark just three times in 10 years. At age 33 next season, he is not likely to get more durable.
Morse also rates out as one of the worst defensive outfielders in the game (according to the MLBTradeRumors piece linked above), ranking in the bottom five of the UZR and Defensive Runs Saved standings over the last three years. He is probably best suited as a DH, a luxury the Reds don’t have.
That projected $20-million+ contract is also a huge black mark against the prospect of Morse’s coming to Cincinnati, as the Reds are already payroll-bound.
As much as the Reds need more pop in their lineup, Morse is just too old, fragile and expensive to fit into Cincinnati’s plans, and signing him would be a mistake. This time, at least, I think general manager Walt Jocketty and his front office minions will avoid that mistake.