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Lock up Morse, or wait it out?

Jan 17, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Michael Morse's breakthrough 2011 will earn him a considerable raise in 2012.

When it comes to arbitration-eligible players (ie. those with at least three years of big-league service time but less than six) clubs always face a dilemma around this time of winter. Do they come to terms with these players on one-year contracts? Do they take their cases to the independent arbitration panel? Or do they attempt to lock up some of these players to long-term extensions now?

In some cases, the answer is simple. It made all the sense in the world for the Nationals to hammer out a five-year, $42 million extension with Gio Gonzalez over the weekend. Yes, they're taking some risk in guaranteeing that money to a 26-year-old pitcher with only two strong big-league seasons on his resume. But if Gonzalez stays healthy and productive, the Nats will probably save money in the long run while also ensuring one of the better, young hurlers in the sport remains in their uniform through at least 2016.

Other cases are less clear-cut. Take, for example, Michael Morse. What should the Nationals do with him?

On one hand, Morse is coming off a breakthrough season in which he led the club with a .305 average, 31 homers and 95 RBI and ranked fourth in the NL with a .550 slugging percentage, all while earning aRead more ยป

  1. Rabbit - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    I say don't mess with the Prince and sign King Morse long term.

  2. Gonat - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Definitely lock him up for 3 years $18 million with a nice escalation $4 million this year, $6 million in '13 and $8 in '14 with a $10 million option in '15 and $14 million in '16.I guarantee you he signs that and the team then has a player under 5 years of control to keep or trade which makes him one of the most valuable LF/1B options available.

  3. joemktg - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    So, by extension, a Morse long term commitment would infer that Nats' interest in Fielder is limited?An issue that still has not been resolved is the top of the lineup OBP and its impact on this decision. Seems to me if Desmond can perform well and secure that spot (lord knows he has the speed), then do you really need a 2013 FA in CF with top of lineup presence? If Desmond doesn't seize the day, then you need that CF with top of lineup productivity (and replace Desmond in the middle infield with Rendon), and Morse is an extra piece.

  4. Doc - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    The Beast just happened to the Nats and it was fortunate that it did. Without his bat in '11, the bad offense would have been even worse.Morse doesn't have Fielder's track record, but at this point going forward he's probably his equal at the plate and maybe a few steps better in the field. The Beast was still learning LF last year and seemed to catch everything that he could get to. Not signing Prince would make it an easy decision about who is going to play 1B for the Nats over the next few years.If the Nats do sign him to an extended contract, they should make sure there's no 'no-trade' clause in his contract.

  5. MFG - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    I completely agree that the Nats' decision on Morse depends entirely on what happens with Fielder. If the Nats sign Fielder, they will trade Morse at some point before he hits free agency (obviously the more time before he becomes a free agent, the greater the return for the Nats).If the Nats do not sign Fielder, there is a good chance the Nats will work out a long term deal with Morse and make him the 1B for this "Strasburg/Zimm/Zimm/Werth/Harper window". Either way, we will not know how the Nats will handle Morse until after the Fielder situation works itself out.

  6. Anonymous8 - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    MFG, I totally disagree with making a decision contingent on what happens with Prince Fielder. NOW, is the time to lock up Morse for 3 to 5 years.I don't think it matters whether you get Prince or not. When you have a chance to lock up a player like Morse for a few years and take away a year or 2 beyond Free Agency is smart. Morse hasn't gotten a big payday yet. He made $1.05MM last year and he will most likely take an $18 to $20 million guaranteed over 3 years to give himself that life security. For a guy up until last year that was living off of league minimum, I can almost guarantee you that he is looking for a contract extension. You aren't giving Morse a "NO TRADE" clause so you have enhanced his value tremendously on the trade market if you can get him for 3 to 5 years especially with option years.Even though Morse isn't 27 years old, he is still younger than many of the aging 1st baseman out there who are aged 34 or more.

  7. HHover - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Signing him now and trading him in the future aren't mutually exclusive–it's not going to be an albatross of a contract, and there's no way he merits a no trade clause.

  8. Joe Seamhead - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    I wouldn't mind seeing Mike in LF this year, assuming that Adam LaRoche is our 1st baseman for the year, with Morse additionally getting some extra work, and coaching, at first with the idea of Morse being the long term answer at first, after filling in in the OF until Harper, and later Goodwin, is ready. I see no reason to believe that Morse's 2011 numbers at the plate were a fluke.And he has the talent to learn to play a good first base. If anything, if he could get some protection around him he could be a 40 HR, 120 RBI, and a .300 plus hitter for years to come. I also would like to know if Rendon can play 2nd base and, if so, Desmond must shine or go. I like Desi, but so far he hasn't shown that he's the SS that you win pennants with.

  9. Mark'd - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Anon8, well said. Lock him up. This isn't an Austin Kearns situation, this is smart baseball business move. Morse is 29 years old with a birthday in March and a late bloomer.

  10. J. - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    I agree with Anonymous8. Giving a long extension isn't the same as locking yourself in. If you get good value on the deal, he'll be easy to move. Think how many teams would love to take on Longoria's contract.

  11. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Forget Prince. Sign Cespedes. Extend RZim. Extend JZim. Extend The Beast. Buy playoff tickets.

  12. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    They have the guy under control for 2013 anyway. It makes no sense to rush in with long term money on this guy, given his 1 year of production and relative advanced age for his service time.dfh21

  13. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    The Cespedes ship has sailed Anon @ 8:08. Maybe Soler.

  14. Gonat - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    dfh21, nobody is talking long-term money. 3 years with option years is smart money unless Morse was to demand a "no trade" clause. You are giving Morse slightly more than he would be getting in arbitration and buying out 1 year of Free Agency. It is very similar to the deal Rizzo did with Gio.

  15. N. Cognito - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    I would have to disagree with Mark, provided the contract is a good one from management's perspective. If Morse is signed for several more years, a potential trading partner would know that Morse would not become a free agent soon after they traded for him. That increases his value.

  16. rmoore446 - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    I'm also with Anonymous 8. I don't believe last season was a fluke and as long as there isn't a no-trade clause, the team is not tied down.

  17. Gonat - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    N. Cognito said… I would have to disagree with Mark, provided the contract is a good one from management's perspective. If Morse is signed for several more years, a potential trading partner would know that Morse would not become a free agent soon after they traded for him. That increases his value. 8:19 AM _____________________________Well said in 50 words or less!

  18. Positively Half St. - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Trade Morse? Wait, I don't want Ryan Langerhans back!I love The Beast as much as anybody, but I don't want to pencil him in as a sure thing yet. Remember what we expected from Nyjer Morgan after a small sample size? Of course, Morse seems a lot more stable then Nyjer, but still. However, since even the most consistent hitter is no sure thing (yes you, Adam Dunn), I think it still makes sense to take the chance and extend Morse through his first year of free agency, and keep or trade him as his performance and team needs allow. I am still feeling quite confident in Mike Rizzo's judgement, so I will accept whatever outcome he chooses on this one.+1/2St.

  19. Theophilus - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Anyone who thinks Morse will sign for three years at $18 million is dreaming. More like $24MM. Even Morse wants to wait until Fielder is put away somewhere, as his value to the Nats will be higher if Fielder signs w/ Texas/Seattle/Miami and Morse is left as the Nats' big RBI guy. So Fielder has until the day of Morse's arbitration hearing to sign — with anyone — and set Morse's market value in DC.Gio Gonzalez represents why the Nats have been moving slow on Fielder. Say, hypothetically, Fielder wants 10 years/$220MM. And that the Nats have, say, $250MM available to spend on additional contracts over the next five years (leading to a payroll around $125/$140MM). Gonzalez's extension just ate 20 percent of that pot, and envisioned extensions to Morse (also this year), Zimmermann (next year), Espinosa and Ramos (two years) and, somewhere in there, R Zimmerman, — will eat up another $160MM. Gonzalez's deal will tie up money for five years, and so will the others, stretching the effects out to 2018 and beyond.If you believe the correct strategy is to tie up your good young players before they start winning the lottery in arbitration and reaching free agency, then there isn't money for Fielder's demands (as rumored). At $20MM/year for, say, four years (assuming that, if necessary, he could be traded), there might be enough money, just barely. Weighed against the risks of injury or a repeat of 2010 (81 RBI), it isn't worth it — in my opinion.I hate to use the term "wait until he falls in your lap" with someone as obese as Fielder but, be patient if nothing else.

  20. MFG - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Anonymous8 – It only makes sense to wait on Morse until after Fielder gets worked out. If the Nats sign Fielder and Morse to a 5-year extension, how do you see the outfield positioning shaking out between Morse, Werth and Harper in 2014 and beyond? None of them are CFs, and two of them will be 33 years or older.I just don't see Rizzo boxing himself into a corner like that, especially with how much emphasis he has put on improving the team defensively.However, if the Nats do not sign Fielder, that leaves 1B wide open for Morse for the next several years, and I would have no problem with the Nats signing him to an extension.It is just smart baseball and business sense to wait a few weeks for Fielder to either bring his asking price down into the Nats' range, or sign somewhere else.

  21. BinM - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    Theophilus: Boras/Fielder are likely to stick to a $25M/yr minimum salary, regardless of length. That's the elephant in the room. With the five reported suitors (CHC, SEA, TEX, TOR, WSH), it will likely come down to who's willing to offer the most years. If one of the AL teams offers an 8-year deal, I can't see WSH matching that.

  22. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    What is so bad about an outfield of Morse in left, Werth in center and Harper in right? Sure it is not solid gold glove but it would be potentially the most productive outfield in the majors.

  23. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Lock in Morse!

  24. Frenchie - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Forget Fielder, please.Sign Morse for long term.Play Laroche at first this year.Play Morse first next year.Use the Occam's razor. We don't need the overweight Fielder. He is not the athlete that Rizzo is cheering and looking for.

  25. Mark'd - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    MFG, you aren't boxing yourself into a lot of risk unless you give a no-trade clause which would be foolish. Your only risk is if Beast Mode reverted into Langerhans!

  26. Gary - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Sign The Beast Morse and find some sucker team to take Werth and get The Prince.

  27. N. Cognito - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    If the years are right, I can't fathom why anybody would be against signing Fielder. NOBODY on the Nats has proven to be even close to the hitter Fielder is.

  28. natscan reduxit - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    … I say this with some hesitation lest I be accused of size-ism, and with a sense of accomodation since we're all friends here. W… when I look at Mike Morse I see an athlete; when I look at Prince Fielder, I don't. When I see a lineup with Morse in it, I see possibility of a win for the team; when I see a lineup with Fielder in it, I see evidence of more dollars for the owners…. but hey, that's just me.Go Nats!

  29. Theophilus - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    BinM — I agree the chances of Boras agreeing to years and $$ I would find acceptable are not high.The "pride goeth" part of me hopes the bottom falls out of the Fielder market but that is very unlikely. I do wonder, however, how Boras will spin whatever they settle for as a victory, or if he will pull another bunny out of his b___.

  30. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    I'm sorry but if you think Prince Fielder doesn't give the team just as big a chance to win as Morse then you're lying to yourself. Fielder crushed Morse in OBP and slugging last year.Fielder is a better hitter than his father, so give him a 6 year deal and there's only 1 year where his power/offensive numbers don't make up for how he performs in the field.

  31. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    For the amount of money they gave Worth he should be able to play CF. Hell if Hamilton can do it for Texas why can't Worth. Correct me if I am wrong I believe Texas made to the WS two years in a row. Worth CFHarper RFMorse LFFielder 1ST Done!I can't figure out why people think Morse is that bad of a left fielder and he is still learning the position. Thats all BS.

  32. SpashCity - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Yea! Why not Werth? He's making so much money he should pitch, and then rotate between shortstop and center field on his days off.Lance Berkman played center field once upon a time. He's almost as fat as Prince, so maybe the Nats can put Prince out there, and he's got a good enough OBP to bat leadoff! Done and done!

  33. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    Furthermore, it will give the team flexibilty with giving players days off. Especially when they change the format of the schedules. There will be more interleague games and they will be spread out the whole season instead of just June. Fielder can DH and Morse will get time at 1st.We have the richest owner in the league so spend the money. I dont have a problem spending someone elses money. Do you?

  34. MurrayTheRed - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    I don't know why they keep changing things, but this site is now almost unusable on my Android phone. Looks nice but it keeps jumping around and reloading.

  35. Avar - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    I agree that if the years aren't too long, Fielder would be great. 4-5 would be my limit.Remember it goes against Rizzo's whole belief system to sign a weak fielding slugger. He loves defense.This is only Morse's second year of arbitration, so he is under control through next season. Also, the Darvish deadline is tomorrow. If Texas doesn't sign him, you have think they go all in on Fielder since they can DH him.For these reasons, they need to submit arbitration figures for Morse and see what happens with Fielder. They can extend him any time.Also, if they extend Morse, then they assume all the risk. After an extension, they can only trade him if he plays up to his contract. If not, they eat it.This is all about risk management, as it is with every player.

  36. Steve M. - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Each discussion keeps seemingly going to a side discussion on the Prince F' Bomb which is fine but I think the key is to make Morse a longer term asset even if you trade him and regardless of whether or not Prince F comes here. Anon8 nailed it as did a few others. You offer Morse a 3 year deal with options and get him tied up w/ full trade rights.Now then if Morse's side turns down the deal, then you don't chase it. $18 to $21 over 3 years makes sense I believe (its not my money). Otherwise you do a 1 year deal so you don't have to go to arbitration and the team still controls Morse for 2013. If you structure like GoNat suggested with an escalation w/ options it should work out for both sides.

  37. MFG - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    What Avar said

  38. BullpenCatcher - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    No long-term extension for Morse now, too risk, after all he is our LEFTFIELDER for the forseeable future, not sure where this dillusion that he is our 1B came from he would have NEVER played a game there for the Nats IF LaRoche did not get injured last year. If we do not get Fielder (which I believe is all hype), who is to say Laroche does not go back to his 25 and 100 type season and we exercise the 2013 option and then maybe sign him to an extension!?Werth will be in CF next year and probably for most of his contract, Harper is NOT a LEFTFIELDER, he is a RIGHTFIELDER with an amazing arm, unlike Werth's Johnny Damonesque arm, which is why we need to hide him in CF or maybe even left field in 2015 or 2016.Without a trade or other signing our OF will be Morse – LF; Werth – CF; Harper – RF (maybe Opening day 2012 but definitely by the break).The EXTENSION we should be writing a column on is the one that has not happened, the ZIMMERMAN extension. What a slap in the face Rizzo gave Ryan when he extended Gio for FIVE YEARS, this is a guy who has not even put on a Nats uniform. They need to extend Ryan at least 3 years, probably 4 years before Spring Training or I believe it will never happen.

  39. Jim Kurtzke - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    I agree with those who say extend Morse. To save face, Rizzo cannot use Werth's contract as an excuse to part with productive players like Morse and Zim.

  40. Water23 - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    Splash City,Your comment brought a smile to my face and somehow reminded me of the "King and His Court." I saw them play once and it was awesome. His tema consisted of a pitcher extraordinaire, a catcher, a shortstop and a first basemen. Man, that guy could pitch and won more often than not. Ahh memories, I hope to have some as fond as those about the Nats soon enough.

  41. Steve M. - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Avar said… For these reasons, they need to submit arbitration figures for Morse and see what happens with Fielder. They can extend him any time.Also, if they extend Morse, then they assume all the risk. After an extension, they can only trade him if he plays up to his contract. If not, they eat it.This is all about risk management, as it is with every player. 10:18 AM You say "They can extend him any time" which is not true as both sides have to agree. Going to an arbitration hearing is not a pleasant experience. The Nats may say $4 million and Morse's camp may say $5.5 million. That is why if the Nats did a new contract now, you avoid that step.Avar, there is risk in everything you do in baseball. Whether it is the Marquis/LaRoche or extending Kearns, or doing the Gio deal. At least with Morse they have experience with how he is on this team. The risk in my opinion is much lower than the Gio deal if you did a 3 year w/ escalations and options as I suggested above.Morse was a bargain at $1.05MM in 2011 so now you are playing with house money.

  42. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    BullpenCatcher, you are making an assumption that Rizzo hasn't offered Ryan Zimmerman an extension in the past. How do you know Ryan didn't say I want to wait until after 2012 to show everyone I can stay healthy a full season and put up 100+ RBIs again. There is always at least 2 sides in every negotiation.

  43. N. Cognito - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    PAY TO PLAY said… "There is always at least 2 sides in every negotiation."Not to complainers.

  44. N. Cognito - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    …or Kool-aid drinkers.(Need to cover both ends of the spectrum)

  45. Tom in AR - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Bullpen Catcher – How is extending Gio a slap in the face to Zimmerman? Gio was arbitration eligible, Zimmerman was extended several years ago and has two years left on his contract. Do I want them to extend him? Yes. But who says that Zim's agent even wants to extend right now. He is coming off an injury shortened year. They may want to wait until his value is higher after next season. It would be great to extend him now, it would be great to extend him during the season, at a minimum I think we must extend him by spring training 2013. If anything the long term contract to Gio should encourage Zim that this team is committed to winning over the next 5 year window, which should make him more likely to stay.

  46. Section 222 - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    I'm with Anon8 and others. Extending Morse makes him more valuable in a trade because he's locked up for several years, if that's what we need to do. Without an extension, we risk not getting anything for him if he walks in 2013. Now's the time to do the extension if he'll do it. If he has another great year in 2012, he'll almost certainly want to test the free agent market in 2013. Bullpen Catcher — 1. If you really think it's more likely that LaRoche will return to his career best 25HR/100RBI form than Morse will continue to rake, you are "dilluded" and I would love to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge if I owned it. 2. RyanZ will be looking for many more than three years. He already did the Gio type extension, remember?3. CF requires a strong arm, maybe stronger than RF given the number of chances. LF is really the only place for Johnny Damon and even for Nyjer. I'm not sure I'd put Werth's arm in that category though.I'm resisting the temptation to weigh in at length on Prince. Sign him! We won't regret it.

  47. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Looks like mebbe Fielder listened to teammates Morgan and Hairston about the Nats. You can probably blame Werth who really hasn't attracted anyone … even his pal Cliff Lee spurned the Nats for the Phillies. There may come a time very soon when the Nats might rue that signing.Reports are he has been waiting for Texas to finish the Darvish negotiations and then jump in and negotiate a contract there.

  48. Water23 - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Per MLB traderumors and the Nats, The Nats have avoided Arb w/Zimnn and Gorzy https://twitter.com/#!/NationalsPR/statuses/159305525224411136Nice to get more ducks in a row.

  49. Grandstander - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    No JZimm extension this offseason. Nats just agreed to terms with him and Gorzo for 2012. Does anyone else think it's almost impossible for them to avoid arbitration with the remaining 3 players (Morse, Lannan, Clippard)? Morse is coming off a huge year and is set for a huge salary increase, Lannan has been consistent and is set to make more than he's probably worth, especially with our current wealth of starters, and Clippard just came off an absolutely dominant season in which he was an All Star. All 3 stand to make significantly more than the Nats are likely willing to pay through arbitration.I'd always rather avoid arbitration as it's such a nasty process, this should tell us a lot about where the FO is in terms of taking care of their homegrown players.

  50. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    The beauty of Morse is that a club can walk away from the guy should he get hurt or implode. And even if he rakes again this year, as we all hope, his arb salary for 2013 would be very tolerable for the production anyway. I just don't see why the Nats should be giving away payroll flexibility. The only thing that pushes an extension is if the reduction in price is well below the anticipated market for him in FA (Morse might go for it to get a decent pay day and long term security, as he has not really had a big pay day and is gonna be 30, but he risks losing the potentially very big upside and in the extension the club risks having to pay a guy who may not produce, so I don't see it happening.) We'll see.dfh21

  51. natsfan1a - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Also per Mark in the new post.Water23 said… Per MLB traderumors and the Nats, The Nats have avoided Arb w/Zimnn and Gorzy

  52. Section 222 - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Anon@11:11am — I don't really agree with the premise of your comment that Werth or any player has that much to do with where their free agent colleagues land. But, let's be fair. Werth attracted Matt Stairs. :-) I think the time when we will rue that signing has long since arrived. But we're stuck with it. The questions are:1. Will he get back to anywhere close to his career norms? 2. Will the signing be used as an excuse for not doing other big free agent signings in the future. I sure hope the answers are: #1 Yes, and #2 No.Good news on JZimm and Gorzo. In may ways, the most revealing signing, if it happens, will be Lannan.

  53. NatsLady - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    They will pay Clipp whatever he asks, Davey won't stand for it otherwise.

  54. Unkyd - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    BPcatch: It would be difficult to make less sense, point by point, than I get from the entirety of your post. Although I do think Beast can be serviceable in LF, I think his size and athleticism give him +potential at 1st, given coaching and reps… Much better upside than in LF. The odds of LaRoche earning his option for '13 are slim and none-if he plays that well, he'll be moved, because as slick as he is in the field, Morse is far superior, offensively. The thought of extending LaRoche, is ludicrous. Best case scenario puts Werth in LF, Oppo Boppo in RF, and speedy, LH on base machine to be named later in CF. Sign Morse today, and ankle like the cat who ate the canary, if you wind up trading him for a couple of big-time prospects, next year…And you can bet RZ LOVED Gio's extension!

  55. Unkyd - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    Ankle?! Smile…..smile like……

  56. Kavorka - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Let's talk a little more about internal CF prospects. We've got a couple guys in the system who are being mentioned (Goodwin, Taylor, and Perez), but there are also some who may fit the bill who aren't brought up as often:There isn't much said about Harper as a potential center fielder in the future. From what I hear, he's got the speed and the arm, he just needs to improve on his ability to track fly-balls and make good decisions. I think there is an opportunity there. His flaws are things that he can learn, he's got the tools for the job.The other opportunity that is also not spoken of often is moving Desmond to CF. Although that is only valid if he's able to improve his production at the plate. The team believes in him, and he also has the tools of a good center fielder (speed and cannon), he would just need to learn the position.See a post from early 2011: http://natsgm.com/2011/05/06/the-past-present-and-future-of-center-field-in-washington%E2%80%A6/These scenarios may come in to play moving forward as we may be looking for some roster flexibility to move Morse to First or make room for Rendon (assuming he pans out).

  57. natsfan1a - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    I'm smiling here, Unk. I thought maybe it was something to do with Ankiel. :-)

  58. greg - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    they're not going to put harper in CF. he's still growing and isn't likely to be the kind of guy who'd play there his whole career anyway. making him learn CF instead of corner OF would delay him making it to DC and wouldn't be a long-term position anyway, just don't see that happening. better to prepare him to play the long-term position, have him play it well, than to shoe-horn him into a position of need.

  59. D'Gourds - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    Why not groom Harper for cf, keep Werth in right, Morse in Left and Prince at first? Rendon will eventually go to 2nd and bat leadoff, Espinosa to SS and resign Zimmerman to a long term deal. One can dream, can't one?

  60. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    Well, if you're going to dream, go big. Dream about Mr. Applegate stopping by your house.

  61. Ray - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    N. Cognito said… If the years are right, I can't fathom why anybody would be against signing Fielder. NOBODY on the Nats has proven to be even close to the hitter Fielder is. Here's why I'm against it. No matter how much money any owner has, only so much is going to go in player salaries. Werth is going to make approx. 20 mil per year. Zimmerman will have to be extended at a sizable raise. If they pay Fielder 25 mil per year, they will have committed nearly 45 mil in two players. This will likely impact a Zimmerman extension. The difference between Fielder and Morse and/or Laroche is 10 HR and maybe 30 RBI per season offensively, and a downgrade defensively which will impact that offensive increase. For this seemingly small increase in offensive production, is it worth jeopordizing the team's ability to extend Ryan Zimmerman? Not to me. The conversation isn't Fielder or LaRoche — to me its Fielder or Zimmerman. And I know which one I would rather have. As far as Morse, I'd extend him now. I have tremendous confidence in him, I think this guy is the real deal. I'd give him 5 years at 8 mil per year. It will look like a club steal in two years.

  62. Lola - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    All I know is, whatever I want, I get. I'm just saying…Sec 3, My Sofa said… Well, if you're going to dream, go big. Dream about Mr. Applegate stopping by your house. 12:30 PM

  63. Kenz aFan - Jan 17, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    the options regarding Morse are really quite easy, if you take a few extra seconds to think about it.You sign Morse now to a one year deal at somewhere plus or minus $4 million, then if Prince Fielder signs elsewhere, offer Morse an extension that covers at least one year of free agency using the same numbers mentioned by Gonat in the second comment. A $14 million two year extension at $6 and $8 million for 2013 and 2014, with team options of $10 million for 2015 and a $14 million option for 2016.Thing is, giving Morse an extension would signal to LaRoche that he wont be back in 2013 and could result in his being a distracted (to put it nicely) in 2012. Then again, it could have the reverse effect and motivate him even more. It's hard to get inside a player's head from way up here in the Canadian wilds.

  64. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    We should bring back Marlon Byrd to play CF, pass on Fielder, extend Morse in LF to take over 1B when we buy-out LaRoche next year. We already have a playoff-caliber team if the rotation stays healthy. A Fielder bust coupled with the Werth bust would be tough to swallow. There are good reasons why no one wants to sign him.

  65. Unkyd - Jan 17, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    Kenz… I hope LaRoche wouldn't go sulking if the team were to lock up a multiple-positional offensive talent like Morse, at a fair price, just because one scenario has him at 1B. I would further hope that he would be inspired to play his butt off, in hopes of catching the interest of a playoff bound team, in mid-summer…..

  66. greg - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    there's very little chance that laroche expects to be back in 2013. a morse extension should not affect his play whatsoever.

  67. SpingfieldNatsFan1 - Jan 17, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    I've said it before, Morse is the kind of player — no person– that you want to build a team with…always out there giving a 100 percent and being a team player. I hate to think where we would have been without him last year. A three or four year contract would be the best for the Nats….and he's a physical specimen that you don't have to worry about…PF Flyer….

  68. Maijo - Jan 17, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    I would hold onto Morse for the long term regardless of Prince Fielder's destination because of the possibility that the Nats will have to eat some of Werth's contract years.

  69. Joe Seamhead - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:49 PM

    We all enjoyed Michael's on the field accomplishments last year, but look at the smile in the picture at the top of this page. Gotta love it! Ryan may be the face of the franchise, but Morse is the face of the dugout! Keep him here!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
x-WASHINGTON 87 64 -- 0
ATLANTA 76 76 11.5
MIAMI 74 77 13.0
NEW YORK 73 80 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 69 82 18.0
Through Wednesday's early games
x-Clinched division title

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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