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The Nationals and Rays are talking about Mike Morse, Danny Espinosa

Dec 3, 2012, 8:42 AM EDT

Mike Morse Getty Getty Images

The Rays just got James Loney, but ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports that the team is talking to the Nationals about a trade for Mike Morse and Danny Espinosa in exchange for pitching.

Just because Loney is in the fold doesn’t mean this makes zero sense — after all, Loney is actually a downgrade from Carlos Pena if that’s possible, and Morse can play a corner — but Bowden’s ESPN colleague Jayson Stark says that while talks are happening a deal “is not very likely.”

But even if it isn’t it reinforces a couple of notions that will inform other deals at the Winter Meetings: (1) that the Rays are willing to deal starting pitching to fill holes; and (2) that the Nationals are leaning toward dealing Morse and re-signing Adam LaRoche to cover first base rather than merely handing the position to Morse.

  1. Old Gator - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    Isn’t that funny? I was talking about Mike Morse and Danny Espinosa just yesterday myself.

    Don’t read too much into it, though.

    • 18thstreet - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      I think it means they read something in today’s Post:

      “The cost to acquire Shields would be steep, but the Nationals possess pieces the Rays would find attractive. Michael Morse would become expendable if the Nationals re-sign first baseman Adam LaRoche, and the Nationals could discuss second baseman Danny Espinosa in trade talks. The Nationals could then make Steve Lombardozzi their second baseman, with the possibility of top prospect Anthony Rendon giving the Nationals more infield depth later in the season or in 2014.

      “Conceptually, dealing Morse and Espinosa for Shields works for both sides.”

  2. natslady - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Love Mikey Morse but he is a free agent in 2014. So I am fine with trading him. Espinosa, No No No No. You don’t trade a gold glove calibre 2B who can sub in at SS, who is under team control for many years. Yes, he strikes out a bunch. But he has power and tremendous work ethic. He is young, have patience, please!

    • natstowngreg - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:20 AM

      Agree and agree. But coming from Bowden, this rumor isn’t hard to dismiss.

      Obviously, the Rays have the pitching depth to make a deal. It’s just hard to see them paying Morse in 2014 and beyond — probably, at least double the $6.75M he will make in 2013. As for Espinosa, there could come a time when Rizzo decides he’s not worth the big bucks. But if that happens, it won’t be for another couple of seasons.

    • kkolchak - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      The one area where the Nats are stacked right now is middle infield, and you have to deal from strength to shore up weaknesses. I love Danny, too, but if they are looking to trade for another front line starter to give them the undisputed best rotation in the NL, dealing Danny is the only way to do it without turning the farm system into a barren desert.

    • dcfan4life - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      If this deal ever came to true, it would be great for the Nats. While danny has had some strong moments for the Nats, his plate pressence is lacking. He strikes out a lot in a lineup that was strong, with good hitting pitchers, chasing garbage pitches from mediocre pitchers. I do not see a change at the plate for him. And man are the Nats deep at middle infield. 3 guys could fill that hole. And we all know, you can never have too much pitching. Deal wont get done but it would definitely help the Nats if it did.

  3. raysfan1 - Dec 3, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    No, it’s not possible that Loney is a downgrade from Pena. Still, landing another 1B would be both welcome and no surprise. As for this deal specifically, I’ll wait and see what happens first.

  4. brianjoates - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    The Orioles should think about trying to get Morse to fill that power DH role while filling in at left and first when needed.

    Morse is a good personality for baseball, its just ashame that it is a numbers game in DC, with no DH he is a chip that can be used for other pieces. And you have to find some regular playing time for Tyler Moore, he showed that he has the ability to play at this level and with more opportunities it could get better.

  5. runteddyrun - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    Michael “Beast Mode” Morse is by far my favorite National, but it sounds like a trade is inevitable – I will be sad to see him go. As for Espinosa, give the kid some time. I remember in 2011, the team was shopping Ian Desmond due to a lack of production and a problem with the glove, and now he is an All-Star shortstop – he too can break through.

  6. js20011041 - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    I’m not exactly sure why the Rays, or anyone for that matter, would be all that interested in either Morse or Espinosa. Morse is 30 and has had exactly one good year in his entire career. Espinosa is a very good defender, but simply can’t hit right handed pitching. If his platoon split was reversed and he couldn’t hit lefties, I’d say he’d be a very good pickup, but he’s literally only effective against pitchers he’ll see a third of the time.

  7. dkphilly1122 - Dec 3, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Morse is a beast……..I would keep him and let La Roche go. I know Morse is due a raise but to me he is worth it and is a better fit with the other young talent going forward. Any team that gets him is getting a great player on the field and in the club house.

    • natstowngreg - Dec 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      LaRoche has two advantages, as the Nats are constructed currently. One, he provides a lefty power bat. Two, he’s a much superior defender. Both he and Morse have good reputations, clubhouse chemistry-wise.

      Neither of them is the longer-term answer at 1B. That is for Tyler Moore or Ryan Zimmerman (with Anthony Rendon taking over at 3B). But the Nats can continue to do well with either one at 1B the next 2-3 years.

  8. shackdelrio - Dec 3, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    How is he a downgrade from Pena? Pena hit under .200 his last two seasons in Tampa.

  9. natsattack - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    I think we can trade Espinosa and/or Morse (but preferably not) for starting pitching because:
    A) Lombardozi can play 2nd just fine
    B) We have a good, young, but unproven Moore at first
    C) We just don’t have enough pitching

    I think the Moore/Morse situation at first means we can let LaRoche walk, it seems like he had a pretty flukey year.

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