It took Adam LaRoche a couple months to cave in and accept the Nationals’ two-year offer, but now that he’s returning to Washington expect Michael Morse to be on the way out.
Morse has somewhat quietly been one of the better right-handed hitters in baseball since becoming a regular in 2010, but there’s nowhere for him to play with LaRoche at first base and Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth flanking Denard Span in the outfield.
Morse batted .291 with 18 homers and a .791 OPS in 102 games last season and has hit .296 with 64 homers and an .861 OPS in 346 games since 2010. During that three-year span his OPS ranks 15th among all right-handed hitters with 1,000-plus plate appearances, sandwiched between Andrew McCutchen and Corey Hart.
However, his trade value could be somewhat limited because Morse will be a free agent next offseason and gives back a ton of runs defensively in the outfield. But for a team in need of some right-handed pop in the middle of the lineup–and perhaps willing to play him at first base or designated hitter–Morse would make a lot of sense.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday that starter Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the NLDS against the Dodgers, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic reports. Strasburg hasn’t pitched since September 7 due to a strained flexor mass.
Strasburg was pitching well before a few poor starts prior to being shut down in August. He currently holds a 3.60 ERA with a 183/44 K/BB ratio in 147 2/3 innings.
The Nationals signed Strasburg to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension in May. This was obviously not how they invisioned his 2016 campaign going.
Nationals starter A.J. Cole has been fined an undisclosed amount and suspended five games by Major League Baseball for intentionally throwing at Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang on Sunday, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Cole is appealing his suspension.
Kang faked a tag on Bryce Harper, who was coming into third base on a triple. The fake-out caused Harper to slide awkwardly, injuring his left thumb. The Nationals took exception to this and Cole threw a fastball that ended sailing behind Kang’s back during his next at-bat. Cole was ejected and both benches emptied. There was some yelling and some light pushing and shoving, but nothing beyond that.
Cole will remain active until his appeal is heard, which may allow him to make one more start before the end of the regular season. He’s carrying a 5.09 ERA with a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 35 1/3 innings over seven starts this season.