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.
The Mariners acquired Yankees’ right-hander Nick Rumbelow in exchange for minor league righty Juan Then and left-hander JP Sears, per an official announcement on Saturday. Rumbelow made 17 appearances for the Yankees in 2015 before undergoing Tommy John surgery and could provide some bullpen depth for the Mariners in 2018.
The 26-year-old right-hander spent the majority of his 2017 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he delivered an 0.62 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 9.3 SO/9 over 29 innings. The Yankees didn’t rush Rumbelow into a full workload after he missed the 2016 season recovering from Tommy John, but he didn’t appear to have any significant setbacks with his health or performance and should be ready to compete for a role next spring.
Sears, 21, was ranked 21st in the Mariners’ organization by MLB Pipeline. He was drafted in the 11th round of the 2017 draft and features a deceptive, low-velocity fastball that he can throw for strikes to either side of the plate. In his first year of pro ball, he split 17 games between Short-Season A Everett and Single-A Clinton, turning in an 0.65 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 16.6 SO/9 across two levels.
Then, 17, also completed his first year of pro ball after signing with the Mariners as a free agent. He went 2-2 in 13 games of rookie ball, pitching to a 2.64 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 in 61 1/3 innings. Neither Sears nor Then will take the mound for the Yankees anytime soon, and offloading Rumbelow to the Mariners should clear up some room on New York’s 40-man roster as they prepare for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.