Austin Kearns AND Michael Morse are now off the table. The Fish made Kearns’ return to Miami official earlier today. Morse departed the east coast for the Pacific Northwest in a fascinating three-team deal, which transpired in the past few hours.
Morse went from the Nats to his original organization, the Mariners, while Seattle sent catcher John Jaso to the Athletics. In turn, Oakland sent right-handed pitching prospects A.J. Cole (who went to the A’s from the Nats in the Gio Gonzales deal) and Blake Treinen, along with the ubiquitous PTBNL, to DC. Billy Beane manages to once again get in the middle of a creative exchange and exacts a pretty interesting backstop, who put up some nice numbers last season, but who was relegated to caddying for Jesus Montero in the future.
If there’s any doubt that Mr. Moneyball is the hands-down master at this sort of wheeling/dealing, he just picked up a 29-year-old left-handed hitting catcher (you can count those on one hand), who batted .276 with 10 HR , 50 RBI and even motored 5 SB and two 3B in just 294 AB. And he walked more than he whiffed (56 BB – 51K)! In 2010, when he had 339 AB he batted .263 and threw up some similar production. Leave it to Beane, who got in the deal from knowing just how much Washington hated parting with Cole in the first place and that the Nats are really only in the market for young arms, since the rest of the roster is set for the next two campaigns. Jaso replaces George Kottaras, who was designated for assignment earlier today.
With Morse and Kearns spoken for, the only obvious right-handed hitting outfielder with reasonable talent and experience is Scott Hairston. So, why have the Mets made him a low-ball offer?
Alderson is waiting to see if he can pick off Justin Upton, the way he picked off Wheeler and d’Arnaud, but with a slight twist. The D-backs have to move Upton in the next three weeks or so. They showed their cards with regard to moving him AND what they are willing to accept for him. The Mets HAVE prospects and can probably hold onto Harvey, Wheeler and d’Arnaud, as opposed to the crosstown Highlanders, who don’t have four prospects of reasonably high quality. The longer this takes, the more Alderson is in the mix. And that’s likely why the Mets haven’t really made a respectable offer to Hairston. He will not be a part of the team if Upton is landed. What’s he worth? Perhaps $5 million for two years or $3 million for a one-year deal. The Mets have reportedly offered Scott $2 million for 2013.
Nonetheless, those three good possibilities for switch-hitting, top-of-the-order CF types are still out there with fewer vultures assessing the prey—Dexter Fowler (who might be acquired for slightly lesser prospects than Upton), Eric Young Jr. (could come inexpensively) or Coco Crisp (perhaps the best choice as a two-year stop gap for one of the promising young centerfield types). Picking up one from this trio will should bring Hairston a better offer since the Mets will need his power if they acquire a leadoff hitter.
As we discussed a couple of days ago, it seems quite plausible that Beane might covet Wilmer Flores (an AL type if there ever was one) and one of the Mets “B” prospect arms in a swap for the two-year, $7 million per Crisp contract. That’s a lot less than the compensation for Upton or Fowler.
It is hard to fathom that Alderson & Company could not have given the Nats an equal or better package for Morse. Of course, we know not who the PTBNL will actually turn out to be, but we know the Mets had little or no interest in the defensively-challenged Morse, which means they actually want to help their pitchers, not cause them angst. All the more reason to believe the front office is chasing down a speedy centerfield option.
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