The MLB offseason is still over a month from over, and the Tampa Bay Rays have yet some holes to fill in on their roster. One addition they could really use is a DH, prefferably a power-hitting right-handed one who can also platoon at first base with the newly-acquired James Loney.
Michael Morse could be just the guy. After re-signing first baseman Adam LaRoche earlier this week, the Washington Nationals are now open to trading Morse, and have already discussed a potential deal with multiple teams. It looks like the Rays could very possibly be one of teams in on him (Twitterlinks), and Nationals even pointed out that "the Rays would make great trade partners."
The 30-year-old outfielder has hit .296/.345/.516 with 64 homers and 198 RBI over the last three years, which is exactly the kind of offensive production the Rays need in their lineup. Morse is mainly an corner outfielder, but can also play a bit of first base and third base as well. His poor defense is likely the reason why AL clubs seem to be more suitable to acquire Morse as a designated hitter. The problem with that, however, is that Morse strongly opposes playing DH. Knowing how much the Rays value defense, he'd have to accept playing DH if they were to sign him.
It's clear that Morse would be a great fit for the Rays, but is he affordable for Tampa Bay's small budget? Morse is under a contract that will make him $7 million in 2013 before he becomes a free agent after the season. Considering that the contract is only for one more year, I believe picking up a quality DH who can supply 20+ home run power as well as platoon at first base is definitely worth the money and will without a doubt improve the Rays' chances of contending this season.
What would a potential Mike Morse deal include? In exchange for the slugger, the Nats are reportedly looking for a left-handed reliever and/or prospects. Prospect southpaw Alex Torres and lefty specialist Cesar Ramos instantly come in mind, and the Rays probably wouldn't be too reluctant to give up either of them.
If the one thing's for sure, the chances of Morse being traded this winter are pretty high. Washington does not want sit a $7 million dollar player on the bench instead of getting rid of his salary for prospect talent.
Andrew Friedman and the Rays are in prime position to make an aggressive move right here that would give the lineup a much-needed boost, and I say they take advantage of the opportunity.