Michael Morse

Nationals and Michael Morse agree to two-year contract

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6:00 p.m. EST update: According to the Associated Press, Morse will earn about $10.5 million over the next two seasons.

5:20 p.m EST update: According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, it’s a two-year deal for Morse, so it merely takes him to free agency.

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The terms aren’t in yet, but the Nationals avoided arbitration with Michael Morse by signing him to a multiyear deal, the team announced.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old Morse was seeking a raise from $1.05 million to $5 million in arbitration. The Nationals filed at $3.5 million. It was Morse’s second year of arbitration, and he would have been eligible for free agency for the first time after 2013.

Morse reached the majors with the Mariners in 2005, the same year he served a 10-day suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but he never established himself until 2010, the year after Seattle traded him to Washington. He hit .289/.352/.519 with 15 homers in 266 at-bats then and .303/.360/.550 with 31 homers in 522 at-bats last season.

Morse was the Nationals’ primary first baseman after Adam LaRoche got hurt last season, but he’ll be shifting back to left field this year. Another strong season from him could complicate things for the Nationals, though in a good way. The team is going to have to break in Bryce Harper at some point, which could mean moving Jayson Werth to center field or Morse back to first base.

Jake Peavy is having a bad go of things right now

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 25: Jake Peavy #22 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT&T Park on May 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.

As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.

Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.

The AT&T Park mortgage is paid off

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This is fun: The San Francisco Giants recently made their last payment on the $170 million, 20-year loan they obtained to finance the construction of AT&T Park. The joint is now officially paid for.

The Giants, unlike most other teams which moved into new stadiums in the past 25 years or so, did not rely on direct public financing. They tried to get it for years, of course, but when the voters, the city of San Francisco and the State of California said no, they decided to pay for it themselves. They ended up with one of baseball’s best-loved and most beautiful parks and, contrary to what the owners who desperately seek public funds will have you believe, they were not harmed competitively speaking. Indeed, rumor has it that they have won three World Series, four pennants and have made the playoffs seven times since moving into the place in 2000. They sell out routinely now too and the Giants are one of the richest teams in the sport.

Now, to be clear, the Giants are not — contrary to what some people will tell you — some Randian example of self-reliance. They did not receive direct public money to build the park, but they did get a lot of breaks. The park sits on city-owned property in what has become some of the most valuable real estate in the country. If the city had held on to that land and realized its appreciation, they could flip it to developers for far more than the revenue generated by baseball. Or, heaven forfend, use it for some other public good. The Giants likewise received some heavy tax abatements, got some extraordinarily beneficial infrastructure upgrades and require some heavy city services to operate their business. All sports stadiums, even the ones privately constructed, represent tradeoffs for the public.

Still, AT&T Park represents a better model than most sports facilities do. I mean, ask how St. Louis feels about still paying for the place the Rams used to call home before taking off for California. Ask how taxpayers in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas feel about paying for their second stadium in roughly the same time the Giants have paid off their first.