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Hot Stove: Seattle Acquires Morse in Three Team Deal
Nate Springfield | Wednesday January 16th, 2013
Michael Morse finds a home and at-bats in Seattle. (US Presswire)
Michael Morse finds a home and at-bats in Seattle. (US Presswire)
The Seattle Mariners were able to add another bat to their lineup on Wednesday afternoon, when the team acquired Michael Morse from the Washington Nationals in a three-team trade. 

In return, Washington receives pitching prospects A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen, as well as a player to be named later from Oakland, and the Athletics receive catcher John Jaso from Seattle.

Michael Morse was without a clear path to playing time in Washington after the team re-signed incumbent first baseman Adam LaRoche in early January. The Nationals thought they should trade Morse while his stock is high, coming off an injury plagued season where he was still able to hit 18 home runs with a .291/.321/.470 triple-slash line in 430 plate appearances. This is somewhat of a homecoming for Morse, being that he made his major league debut with the Mariners, and played his first four seasons big-league seasons with Seattle.

At the age of 30, the Florida native has probably already seen his most productive seasons of his career at the plate, but he is definitely a bat that can help the Mariners add major league talent on the field, at minimal investment, as they rebuild. With one year left on his current contract, look for the Mariners to put Morse in the best position possible to succeed, as he should serve as trade-bait in July. More than likely, Morse will see time at both corner outfield positions - sharing time with veteran off-season acquisitions Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez - as well as at-bats while subbing for Justin Smoak at first base and serving as the teams designated hitter.

The Mariners lose catcher John Jaso in the deal, sending the 29 year-old backstop to Oakland to free up the every day catching job in Seattle for Jesus Montero. Jaso, who has a career .255/.359/.395 career triple-slash, quietly had a break out year in 2012, posting a much better .276/.395/.456 line in 361 plate appearances. Given the chance to play consistently in Oakland may help Jaso to continue to improve on last season's numbers. The left-handed hitting Jaso will have a chance to get those at-bats, as he should be Oakland's everyday starter behind the plate when the team faces right-handed pitching, while Derek Norris makes starts behind the dish when the team faces a southpaw.

The final pieces of this deal are pitching prospects A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen, who are heading from Oakland to Washington. Cole is returning home to Washington - the team that originally drafted him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Washington sent the 21-year-old flame thrower to Oakland just last off-season in the Gio Gonzalez trade. Treinen, 24-years-old, and Cole both ended the 2012 season with Oakland's high-A affiliate, enjoying moderate success at that level. Out of the two, Cole has more upside because of his skill set and age. Oakland will also receive a player to be named later in the deal.

From a fantasy stand point, everyone effected by this deal sees a bump in value - outside of George Kottaras who was released by the Athletics to make room for Jaso on their roster. 

Michael Morse will now have a clear path to at-bats considering what Seattle has to gain from him having an impressive season at the plate. The fences are being moved in at Seattle, which should allow him to be productive at the plate during home games. This also gives a boost to Jesus Montero's value because the team will be less likely to sit him, even if he is struggling, now that Jaso is out of the picture.

John Jaso's value may see the biggest increase after this deal, because he will definitely see more than 361 plate appearances in his role in Oakland. If he can maintain those ratios over 450-plus plate appearances, he will be more valuable than most second catchers in a mixed league format, and is a weak number one catcher in any AL-only league.

Cole and Treinen will not see the major leagues this year, and are not worth investing in - even in a dynasty format at this time, but it is worth monitoring Cole's progress over this season.
Nate SpringfieldNate Springfield joined the Baseball Press crew for the 2010 season and hosts the site's podcast. His love for the game has grown thanks to fantasy baseball, with a specialty in NL-only auction leagues. You can contact him at nate@baseballpress.com or follow him on Twitter @NateSpringfield.