On the strength of hitting .289 with 15 homers in 266 at-bats as a part-timer Mike Morse emerged as a possible everyday player for the Nationals in 2011, but Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com writes that his role hinges on whether they sign a veteran first baseman.
Washington has been linked to just about every free agent first baseman on the market, so Morse’s chances of heading into Opening Day with a starting spot seem slim, but for now he serves as a fallback option at first base who could also shift to the outfield to platoon with Roger Bernadina.
Of course, as well as Morse hit in limited action last season he’s hardly a sure thing to be a productive regular. For one thing he’s 29 years old and has never received even 300 plate appearances in a season, spending 2006-2009 primarily in the minors. For another thing his numbers at Triple-A are much closer to good than great, as he hit .292 with a .354 on-base percentage and .461 slugging percentage in 307 games.
Whether or not the Nationals would be smart to sign a veteran first baseman like Derrek Lee or Adam LaRoche is up for debate, but whatever happens Morse is likely best suited for a part-time gig.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.
Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.
When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.
What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.
The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.
Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.