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Giants sign Michael Morse to one-year deal

Dec 12, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT

Michael Morse AP

Looking to get his career back on track following a terrible season split between two teams, Michael Morse has agreed to a one-year deal with the Giants.

Morse got off to a great start this year, but then hit just .201 with five homers and a .584 OPS in 64 games after May 1 while missing time with a wrist injury. Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that the Giants have promised Morse the everyday job in left field, which means Gregor Blanco is headed to the bench in a power-for-defense swap.

If healthy Morse is a good bet to bounce back at age 32, although he’s always going to be a brutal defensive player who gives back a lot of runs with his glove. However, from 2010-2012 he hit .296 with an .861 OPS in 346 games for the Nationals, averaging 30 homers per 150 games.

UPDATE: Buster Olney of ESPN.com says Morse will get $5 million in guaranteed money, plus incentives. So it sounds like a similar, but slightly lesser deal than Corey Hart got from the Mariners.

  1. stex52 - Dec 12, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    But wait! I thought he couldn’t wait to sign with the Astros! Jeez. Another big name gets away.

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      Not sure that “big” name is appropriate. I really liked Morse, but then I started to understand the value of defense.

      • stex52 - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:47 AM

        I needed a Sarcasm font on that one. Morse might have been interesting from a DH/bench perspective, but I don’t think he answers the Astros’ many problems.

  2. paperlions - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    I assume today there will be a bunch of hand wringing about a guy caught using PEDs signing yet another contract. Or is it okay if they sign a contract as long as people don’t remember the failed drug test or because he’s actually not any good?

    • karlkolchak - Dec 12, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      Maybe because it was a long time ago rather than last season and he has apparently tested clean since then?

      • paperlions - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        So what? Peralta has been in the league longer than Morse and was busted just once.

        Colon tested positive the year before Peralta was suspended. It is just an inconsistency in response or giving a crap…..just like no one cares that Mitch Williams used PEDs, despite his use being after McGwire was done playing…but people continue to bring up the McGwire stuff within the context of him being a coach, but never do so with Williams.

      • paperlions - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        Did someone ask Ziegler how long a guy has to be considered clean before he can sign a contract?

  3. hittfamily - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    I was thinking a surprise trade might be Matt Joyce and Jose Lobaton for Brandon Belt. The Giants have never really been Belt fans. Sabean said last week they want to upgrade at LF, and Lobaton could serve nicely as the backup catcher, allowing Posey to play first more. Joyce is relegated to DH duty with Myers and Dejesus manning the corner outfield spots, and Lobaton is now the 3rd catcher after Molina and Hannigan. Lobaton posted 1.5 fWAR in a part time role, and could one day take over for Posey if they move him to an infield spot. Posey was a SS in college, so in theory, he could likely handle third as well or better than Panda, and move Panda to first base.

    All the pieces seemed to really fit.

    • stex52 - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      That’s a great deal for Tampa Bay if they can pull it off. Joyce struggles with lefties. And it looked to me in 2013 like Belt is on the verge of a major breakout.

      I think if I’m Sabean it takes the old drugs in the coffee trick to make that deal go.

      • hittfamily - Dec 12, 2013 at 11:46 AM

        I wasn’t trying to be a homer. I remember being at the game in St Pete in August when Belt nearly hit for the cycle. He was hitting 7th. The next day, he was benched because the Rays threw a lefty. Sabermetrics say Belt is a very valuable player. The San Fran fans and seemingly the Giants management has never fully embraced him though. He seems like the type that Friedman and company would fully embrace though…Lots of contact, good walk rate. The type where they might overpay in San Fran’s eyes, but underpay in their eyes. He had a HUGE August and September, so that may have changed Sabean and Bochy’s perception of him though.

        Still, if the plan is to have Posey play 1st 30-40 games next year, it makes sense to have a good backup catcher, and maybe an upgrade elsewhere, rather than put Belt on the bench. With this Morse signing, I get the feeling they will platoon Morse for Belt at the first sign of Belt not handling lefties.

        Joyce and Lobaton probably isn’t enough straight up, as Joyce has 2 years left til Arb and Lobaton has 4, but it might be a good foundation to start on. Maybe throw in a prospect.

      • stex52 - Dec 12, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        Maybe something like that. From what I saw at the end of last season, Belt has a tremendous amount of potential. But Joyce and Lobaton do fill positions. My best guess, though, is that SF will pass on trading Belt.

        If they do pull the trigger, then good for TB.

      • hittfamily - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:49 PM

        I suspect you are right, that they don’t move him. At times last year though, they seemed to be giving Brett Pill more time than he deserved at first over Belt. If there is 1 good player, who’s team doesn’t think he’s very good though, it’s Brandon Belt. With the inflated salaries bad first baseman are getting, I bet Fried has at least made the call. When James Loney wants 30 mil, you have to get creative.

    • aroomadazda - Dec 12, 2013 at 6:35 PM

      Despite what it seems, the Giants (and the fans) really like Belt. The Giants always recognized his potential, but I think they messed with him a little too much, plus he has a knack for psyching himself out at times. In the second half last year he really settled into being a pretty good offensive player with a post AS break OPS of .910, to go along with his elite defense. No way he gets traded at this point, but when they are ready to move Posey to 1B, they might think about it.

  4. bigguy54 - Dec 12, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    I am not that familiar with LF in SF but the fans are going to hate this move. His D is beyond awful, and if he can’t hit again he will be cut out benches before the A/S break. He had two good weeks then sucked after that. Good luck SF you also better hope he doesn’t get tested for HGH, it will be his second failed test.

    • larrythecat5 - Dec 12, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      Giants fan here. I feel that we tolerate slower outfielders in LF as long as they bop. LF is pretty easy in AT&T, and we have CF’rs in Pagan, Blanco, Perez who can really go get it in Left Center. Pitching & Defense is a hallmark of our club, and we have the keys already in place: great D up the middle, championship rotation, lockdown & battle-tested bullpen. So with all of that, accepting a LF’r with poop range and a frying pan for a glove is kinda ok. We won a championship with a lumbering Pat Burrell and our skipper helped us by using late inning defensive replacement. @hittfamily: I totally get what you are saying about Belt, I felt that the Giants brass felt the same….BUT, I’m going to sing his praises :) Things seem to be changing. Brian Sabean has said that Brandon Belt is going to only play 1st, Buster is going to primarily catch. I think that Belt’s defense is truly a must-have for the Giants as he gets big outs by saving plays in the infield. Also, Belt finally scored some points when he stopped talking himself out-of instruction from the Giants staff: last year he finally made an adjustment and stopped crouching so much, and he changed his grip which helped him and his barrel stay behind the ball, instead of being out front before he even got to the hitting zone. He has a great eye, but his bat was always in poor position in the hitting zone, and coupling that bad tendency with top notch nastyiness from big league pitchers doomed him again and again. Last year in the 2nd half, he started knocking the ball around the park with regularity, and stopped getting himself out. If he continues, he’s going to hit 25 HR’s best case, and play a gold glove 1st base. Also, he fits nicely in a lineup with balance: righty Scutaro hitting 2nd, lefty Belt hitting 3rd, righty Posey hitting 4th, righty Pence hitting 5th, refty Pablo hitting 6th, righty Morse hitting 7th. Man, that lineup really lengthens-out with a smarter Belt and a return-to-form Morse!

  5. karlkolchak - Dec 12, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    As a Nats’ fan I love The Beast, but him gettting an “everyday job” in the outfield rather than first base on an NL team with no DH is a bit of a head scratcher give his poor defense and the fact that he isn’t getting any younger. I wish him well, but I wouldn’t bet a whole lot of money on this working out very well for the Giants.

    • NatsLady - Dec 12, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      I assumed they would platoon him, but apparently he’ll start. This seems like his last chance to get in shape, forget about goofing off, forget about endorsements and other side-shows. He’s very entertaining, but–

    • tomcatfl - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      I assume that’s why the Giants only gave him a one-year deal, without (apparently) getting rid of the guy he’s “replacing” – they’re hedging their bets…

  6. temporarilyexiled - Dec 12, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Actually, this is exactly what the Giants needed to do…as in SOMETHING. They have Juan Perez/Gregor Blanco to fall back on. And if memory serves, Pat Burrell wasn’t exactly twinkletoes in LF. That seemed to work out well enough in 2010…Right-handed hitters can hit homeruns in SF. And there was so much fan uproar about not at least trying to improve LF, if nothing else, the brass can at least remind the fanbase that they tried. If the Giants now target infield and bullpen depth, they have to be considered contenders – certainly NOT the favorite to win the division – but they can go just as far as their starters take them. That could be amazing…or it could be last year.

  7. sisqsage - Dec 12, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    The reality is they have had a patchwork LF ever since Barry left. Melky looked like a keeper until…well, you know.They lost last year because their pitching (starters and relief) did not come through, except for Bum and Romo. If Morse hits, he’ll help. Too many at bats from Blanco gets ugly really fast. He’s good for a few slap bunts and late inning defense. Clueless on the bases. We need Mac Christ. to get MLB ready ASAP. He’s like the only homegrown OF prospect worth a darn in the Sabean era. Amazing how inept they have been in the minors with OF talent/hitting.

  8. dylanthom2013 - Dec 13, 2013 at 2:31 AM

    As a Rangers fan I wouldn’t have minded landing Morse. He’s one of the strongest players in the league and his HR’s can be titanic. All those kayakers waiting in the water behind AT&T during games better wear helmets and body armor.

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