Adam LaRoche Back to Nats

Slugging first baseman Adam LaRoche returns to the Nationals.

LaRoche was one of the top power hitters on the free-agent market this winter, but the new rules of the collective bargaining agreement seem to have negatively impacted his ability to assemble offers and receive top value for his talents. After swatting a career-high 33 HR and driving in 100 runs for the second consecutive year, all LaRoche gets is a two-year, $24M contract with an option for a third. Granted, that’s not peanuts, and he is 33, but he might’ve done better if teams didn’t have to forfeit a first-round pick to sign him. Similarly, Kyle Lohse are Michael Bourn are finding the winter chilly, and one has to wonder if the MLBPA will re-think the compensation rules to which they agreed.

With LaRoche in the fold, the Nats are now aggressively shopping Michael Morse. Obviously, the Mets could use a righthanded, power-hitting corner outfielder. But can they afford his $6.75M contract? Do they have anything of value that the Nationals want and the Mets can spare? Rumors are flying that the Nats would like to get a lefthanded reliever in return for Morse, but if that’s the case, I’d think they’re shopping for a proven veteran like a Randy Choate, Matt Thornton, or Boone Logan. Too bad Tim Byrdak blew out his shoulder, or he might’ve been the chip the Mets could offer. I don’t see the Nats settling for someone like Josh Edgin or Robert Carson, who right now are relatively unknown entities.

Here’s a completely out of left field idea, though — would the Nats consider trading Morse for Johan Santana? No, I don’t think Johan would be valuable out of the bullpen, but maybe as a fifth starter, pushing LHP Ross Detwiler into a swing role. Why would the Nats do this? To have a veteran presence who once was an elite talent around their youngsters, and also to roll the dice that Santana still has a few great October games left in him. Though, it seems they already found that gamble in Dan Haren. But hey, who knows what the Nats are thinking? And as long as we’re dreaming, imagine if the Nats agreed to take on all of Johan’s salary? No, it’s too perfect from the Mets’ point of view.

One detail to consider: Morse is in the final year of his contract, and logic would suggest that the 30-year-old would shop his wares in free agency next winter. The way things look now, I find it difficult to believe the Mets would be able to extend or re-sign Morse, but there are two decent reasons to make a deal for him anyway. First, there’s always the possibility of flipping him at the trade deadline to a power-starved playoff contender — the A’s did this successfully with Matt Holliday a few years back, and it netted them three minor leaguers. Alternatively, the Mets could hold on to Morse through the end of the year, then make him a one-year, $12M-$13M “qualifying offer” for 2014. Even at that rate, Morse could be a pretty good deal, so if he accepts, great (remember, we keep being told that the Mets will have “flexibility” as of 2014). If he declines, the Mets get an extra draft pick at the end of the first round of the June 2014 draft. Of course, you have to buy into the story that the Mets will be flush with money — and be willing to spend it — when the Santana and Jason Bay contracts go off the books.

What do you think? Do the Mets have anything to offer the Nats for Morse? Is there any possibility they’d be able to re-sign or extend him? Should they?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Dan B January 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm
    Now you are thinking like a creative GM. The problem with trading Morse at the deadline is his value would be effected by the receiving team not getting a draft pick if they lose him to FA. Plus I don’t see wild card contenders mortgaging the future for a one game playoff. Also the cost of acquiring him would be more then the draft choice they would gain at the end of the year.
    If I was the Mets, I would hold on to Santana for at least a month. Let him prove his trade value. The Mets are desperate to get something for him (specifically salary relief). He is also one of the few Mets who has name recognition to the casual fan. Lastly, someone has to start every fifth game until Wheeler is promoted.
    Would the Nats, or anyone, be interested in Francisco? I don’t see him on the team past July 31st.
  2. Izzy January 9, 2013 at 7:52 pm
    Hmm, Detweiler as a swing man. They tried that briefly last year when they made the mistake of putting Wang into the rotation. I don’t remember how Detweiler did but Wang was so bad Detweiler returned to the fold. He was pretty good as a 5th starter. I think the Mets should offer Edgin and Duda, because if you have Morse and Duda in the outfield you need the world’s fastest human in center, because Morse is almost as bad, but not quite. as bad as Duda out there. Morse makes the lineup very respectable and gets Davis decent pitches to hit as he is protected.
  3. Quinn January 9, 2013 at 9:52 pm
    The mets won’t do this cuz they have no interest in being good
  4. dansmith January 9, 2013 at 11:54 pm
    The Nationals have an absolute embarrassment of riches right now…it would be nice to see the Mets have “problems” like this Morse/LaRoche situation someday