In the final year of a deal that’s set to put him on the free agent market at the end of 2013 season, trading Michael Morse at the deadline just made sense.
Not so, according to the Seattle Mariners, who held on to the frustratingly inconsistent slugger through July 31 because of … why, exactly?
That’s just one of the questions that are being posed by fans of a team that seemed content to tread within the limbo that exists between a buyer and seller, not quite improving to make a run for a Wild Card spot and not dishing off expendable pieces so they can do it next year.
It’s not as though Morse didn’t draw any interest either, as the Tampa Bay Rays were rumored to be in on the oft-injured first baseman/outfielder (after they’ve just acquired the still-injured Jesse Crain, of course) to potentially bolster their defense.
Now, that’s about where the rumors stopped, but considering that the M’s are more than likely not going to be bringing the 31-year-old back, not pushing for a deal with a team which owns one of the best farm systems in the bigs is not particularly conducive to the all-eyes-ahead approach.
But why Morse? What distinguishes him between say, Raul Ibanez or Kendrys Morales?
Well, aside from the fact that Ibanez is unlikely to get much of a return (despite his significantly over-achievement this season), the fact is that unlike those two pending free agents, the M’s have already experienced life without Morse for an extended period of time this season.
And as it turns out, life wasn’t so bad.
In the 31 games that he missed, the Mariners were 18-13, a run that included an eight-game winning streak that made it look as though they might actually have a puncher’s chance at being relevant in the postseason race.
Not to say that this is directly related so much as it’s an uncanny coincidence, but since Morse returned from the DL? Seattle has lost two in a row, with him going 0-for-9 in the process. Sure, he could just be taking time to warm up, and there’s still little doubt about his power potential; but with a homer-less drought that stretched throughout his 34 at-bats in June, it’s no sure thing either.
So while Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik makes some sense when he explains that not trading impending free agents on deadline days prevents them from feeling jilted in betrayed, the goodwill earned by the team from Morse doesn’t seem to apply here since the M’s has shown that he’s not truly needed, and more importantly, that they can succeed without him — both in the present and the future.