It is time for the Tampa Bay Rays to start their process to craft another 90-win team. Everyone knows the drill; the Rays look for players who fit their play multiple positions style and are budget friendly. Enter Michael Morse, a perfect candidate for the Rays as a guy who can hit for both average and has plenty of power.
2013 was supposed to be his breakout year leading him to a big 2014 free agent payday. Well that did not happen with the Seattle Mariners. The 31 year old Morse played in only 88 games because of an injury to his left hand that made it impossible to play for a large part of this season. The Mariners traded him to the Baltimore Orioles for the stretch drive for the playoffs. It did not workout well for either the Birds or Morse, and now he is looking for a place to play in 2014.
Morse’s success with the Washington Nationals over the 2011 and 2012 seasons has been well documented. In 2011 he hit .303 with 31 home runs filling in at first base for Adam LaRoche and playing some left field. Then in 2012 he was a big part of the Nationals winning the NL East and an MLB high 98 games. He hit a solid .291 with 18 home runs while playing some outfield and some first base.
He was given the nickname of “The Beast” because of the long distances that most of his home runs travel. He was loved by his teammates and the Washington fans. His walk up song, A-ha’s “Take on Me”, was sung by the fans as he came to the plate and it is now the song that the fans sing during the seventh inning stretch.
The Nationals were hanging onto Morse till they made some choices. But when Washington signed LaRoche to a new two year deal and Bryce Harper became the full time left fielder, Morse was expendable. He was traded by the Nationals to the Mariners and the rest is history.
The Rays’ savvy front office knows that Morse has said he wants to play for a contender and he is likely to sign a budget friendly deal with Tampa Bay for a one-year contract. He is aware that putting up good numbers while helping a team to the playoffs and beyond can equal that big payday he wants as a free agent in 2015.
Morse is a guy who can hit for average, has big time power, is a great clubhouse guy and a fan favorite. There is nothing not to like about Morse as long as he can stay healthy, and he is a gamble the Rays should be willing to take.