January 16, 2013
Wednesday, January 16
The Nationals were widely expected to make a move around this time, a week after they brought Adam LaRoche back on a two-year deal, but that move was supposed to involve trading Michael Morse for prospects or bullpen help. Instead, Washington got the latter in the form of Rafael Soriano, who inked a two-year, $28 million pact on Tuesday, an addition that may serve to create new trade avenues for general manager Mike Rizzo.
What does the Soriano signing mean for Morse?
Though Rizzo has previously stated that there is still room for Morse on the 2013 roster, the structure of Soriano’s new contract—which includes $7 million paychecks in 2013 and 2014, and then $14 million in deferred payments beginning in 2018—suggests that the $6.75 million Morse is due for the coming season would stretch owner Ted Lerner’s budget. ESPN’s Jayson Stark pointed out on Tuesday that the Nationals’ payroll has virtually doubled over the past three years, reaching $120 million for 2013 after sitting at $61 million in 2010. Any hint of desperation might impact Rizzo’s leverage in talks, and although nearly a dozen teams have inquired about Morse, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal believes that his unwillingness to serve as a designated hitter could become a hindrance.
The list of active suitors for Morse could plausibly include every American League East team, as well as the Indians, Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Rangers, and others that have not yet been identified. Names like Charlie Furbush, Boone Logan, Brian Matusz, and Jake McGee were bandied about when the Nationals were thought to be seeking a left-handed reliever, but if their preferences have indeed shifted, then teams that can offer high-quality prospects now have the advantage. Rizzo may be especially cognizant of the need to restock his farm system after surrendering the 29th-overall pick in this year’s amateur draft, and with injury concerns clouding two of the team’s top remaining pitching prospects (Matt Purke and 2012 first-rounder Lucas Giolito), adding high-ceiling arms is one possible priority.
Scott Hairston likely to sign before the end of the week
What’s intriguing about the Hairston situation is that, as recently as a week ago, he was considered a lock to stay in New York, with the bidding for his services coming down to the Mets and Yankees. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman cast doubt on that line of thinking yesterday, when he noted that Sandy Alderson had “balked at” Hairston’s two-year, $8 million price tag and that Brian Cashman had pulled out of the running entirely. The 32-year-old’s reluctance to settle for a one-year hitch is the main reason that he remains unsigned despite a strong résumé of thumping left-handed pitching, and given the Yankees’ 2014 payroll constraints, it may have cost him an otherwise attractive landing spot.