Mike Morse is gone. He was traded overnight to the Mariners in a 3-team deal that has so far brought back the Nats AJ Cole and Blake Treinen. It will also include a player to be named later.
It's a fair deal, in my opinion. We've discussed why Mike Morse, a guy who could hit .300 with 30 HR is not a big trade target. They weren't going to get back any really good major league talent or even a good prospect close to being in the major leagues, outside of maybe relief arms. Instead they've gotten two guys who are at least a couple of years away who add some organizational pitching depth to a team who's current minor league pitching can be described as 40 guys with arms held together with fishing wire now that Meyer has been dealt and they let Rosenbaum walk.
AJ Cole, who you may remember as being a Nats not so long ago, is still a legit prospect. While he didn't do well in Advanced A ball (ok he outright stunk it up), he will still be only 21 this year. I can't even call that a step back at that age. More like, he didn't step forward. He's still got all his talent and he'll have another two years to figure out A+ ball before anyone starts pondering other plans for Mr. Cole.
Blake Treinen is kind of a throw-in. He's got a ton of talent too, but was pretty hittable in A+ ball last year. Still it's a hitting friendly league so he was about average, but at 24 in that league you are kind of done with starters if what you see is just average. The most likely turn of events for Blake is a move to the pen but I'd expect the Nats to mess around with him starting for one more year at least. The Nats literally had no starter last year have a good year at a young age for his league. High-A and AA, where most of the studs usually sit, was a wasteland. Maybe the PTBNL will help, maybe not.
The more important side of this is it makes the Nats worse in 2013, right after they made kind of a silly move that seemed only concerned with making them better in 2013. Morse was going to get some at bats, and he was fine insurance for an OF / 1B situation that includes one guy with concussion issues and two old guys one year removed from season-killing injuries. Now the responsibility for covering for these guys falls onto Bernadina and Moore.
Bernie had a great year off the bench last year, but also sported a BABIP much higher than he ever had before. On the plus side he IS hitting the ball better (LD% is up) so I don't think he'll hit in the .240s this year, but the .290s is also unlikely. High .260s and no power seems fair. Really though Bernie isn't on the bench for long term solutions. He's there to be a fair defensive replacement and pinch runner.
Moore on the other hand is ALL about hitting and when most people think of his 2012 they think of happiness. I agree, as in it was a season that was just an illusion, full of sadness and confusion. If you look at Moore's monthly splits you see this:
OMG GREATEST PLAYER EVER!
VERY BAD BUT WITH AN EXTRA HOMER!
That one month - where everything went right for Moore really skewed the season. He had a .481 BABIP. That's crazy. He walked 8 times. He walked 6 times the rest of the year combined. And it's not in like those other months things broke wrong for him. That "very bad" and "below average" months were very fair for him luck-wise.
What does this mean? Well it mainly means you shouldn't consider Moore a viable long-term replacement at any position. He's a one trick pony - a masher of LHP you bring up to put one over the fence when you need it. He's no Morse, who at least had two tricks.
In the end, if there are no big injuries, this isn't going to be a big deal. It may not even cost the Nats a win overall. Morse wasn't going to get a ton of at bats and 6.75 mill is a lot of cash for insurance. Now, if there is a big injury then you're could feel the effects of Morse being gone. It's still not going to be enough to knock the Nats into any trouble, but it does make them a tiny bit worse.
On Tuesday it looked like the Nats were going all in. On Wednesday they showed that they actually palmed a few chips because, you know, let's not be crazy about this.