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Nationals and Michael Morse agree to two-year contract

Jan 20, 2012, 4:35 PM EDT

Michael Morse Reuters

6:00 p.m. EST update: According to the Associated Press, Morse will earn about $10.5 million over the next two seasons.

5:20 p.m EST update: According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, it’s a two-year deal for Morse, so it merely takes him to free agency.

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The terms aren’t in yet, but the Nationals avoided arbitration with Michael Morse by signing him to a multiyear deal, the team announced.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old Morse was seeking a raise from $1.05 million to $5 million in arbitration. The Nationals filed at $3.5 million. It was Morse’s second year of arbitration, and he would have been eligible for free agency for the first time after 2013.

Morse reached the majors with the Mariners in 2005, the same year he served a 10-day suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but he never established himself until 2010, the year after Seattle traded him to Washington. He hit .289/.352/.519 with 15 homers in 266 at-bats then and .303/.360/.550 with 31 homers in 522 at-bats last season.

Morse was the Nationals’ primary first baseman after Adam LaRoche got hurt last season, but he’ll be shifting back to left field this year. Another strong season from him could complicate things for the Nationals, though in a good way. The team is going to have to break in Bryce Harper at some point, which could mean moving Jayson Werth to center field or Morse back to first base.

  1. trevorb06 - Jan 20, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    Smart move by the Nats. Even if they’re giving him ~$5 mill a season for a few years that’s still a bargain in this market.

  2. natstowngreg - Jan 20, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    It’s been great to watch Morse’s progression from failed Mariners prospect to pinch-hitter to platoon hitter to legit MLB cleanup hitter.

    The logjam at 1B and corner OF has been on the horizon for a while, before Prince Fielder became a possibility. One option after 2012 will be to not re-sign LaRoche, with Morse (or Prince) at 1B. As for CF, Rizzo and Davey have indicated that they can live with Werth there for now, but expect them to continue the search for a starter for the longer term. Indeed, it’s a good problem to have.

    The thing that leaves me curious is, why the Nats didn’t buy out at least one free agent season, as they did with Gio Gonzalez. Perhaps, either Rizzo didn’t want to go too far out there for a player who is still relatively inexpensive, but already hitting 30. Or, Morse wouldn’t go along.

  3. bmoreballers - Jan 20, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    Wow I thought he was a lot younger but none the less the kid can rake the ball. Good move by the nattys for sure

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