Mike Morse Mariners: Fantasy Spin of Trade to Seattle

Naturally, during the week where we are doing our American League West Previews, a trade involving two of the teams in the division took place. First off, in case anyone out there isn’t aware of the deal, take a look at the move (per Adam Kilgore, Washington Post).

Nash will give his projection on the the A’s lineup later in the week. But as for me, rather than redo the Mariners’ preview, making that a mess, I figured that give my take right here.

Jaso won’t have a great amount of fantasy value in Oakland. He’s a decent hitting catcher, but nothing more than a real sleeper pick in deep leagues. Cole is not Major League ready, so his fantasy value isn’t a factor. Not for 2013, anyway. Now Morse moving to Seattle will have some ramifications on the fantasy value of some Mariners, including Morse himself.


1. Mike Morse

He’s going to be better here than he would have been in Washington, where at bats were going to be slim. Safeco isn’t much of a hitter’s park, but they are moving the fences in. In addition to that, Morse is really powerful.

He’s averaged better than 20 homers in each of the last three seasons, despite playing an average of only 115 games. In 2010, he hit 15 in only 98 games, while in 2012 Morse slugged 18 in 102 games. In 2011, Morse had something of a full season, 146 games, and mashed 31 homers.

This is all to say that if he can get 150 games worth of at bats, a 35 homer, 100 RBI season is not far-fetched. Yes, he’ll have to compete for at bats as either an outfielder, first baseman, or DH, but I can’t imagine Morse riding the bench a lot. He’s just a more powerful hitter than anyone else they have, and has a .295 career average. Seattle has a lot of players to compete for jobs, but none of them are at Morse’s level. Now that he’s in a place where at bats should come, he’s going to be a valuable fantasy option.

If he does play first base in Seattle, then he’ll pick up eligibility there in season, and will start the year with outfield eligibility (left and right field, specifically).


2. Jesus Montero 

I can’t help but think that this move will hurt his numbers a little bit, although runs and RBI could possibly improve for the better. What made Montero so dang intriguing is that he was going to have fantasy catcher eligibility without logging serious time at catcher. While Jesus Montero is not old by any means, the catcher position is brutal and by the end of the season, significantly hurts the offensive production of nearly everyone who plays the position.

With Jaso gone, I’d imagine that Montero will be behind the dish quite a bit more. The overall at bats may not be hindered too much, as if he’s good enough, Seattle will try to slide him in at first base or DH when possible, but as of this moment, Jaso and Montero are the only catchers on the Mariners 40-man roster. Obviously they’ll bring someone up when this trade becomes official, but I can’t imagine Seattle wanting him to log too many games there.

Again, I don’t see this being an on balance positive for Montero’s fantasy value. Take a look at how he was projected in the preview.

Dixon’s Original Projections: 530 at bats, 73 runs, 17 homers, 68 RBI, 0 steals, .270 average.


3. Justin Smoak

First of all, I never saw Justin Smoak as a valuable fantasy option, and this trade does not help. Kendrys Morales is already in town and while injuries are a concern, he’s a better player than Smoak.

In reporting the trade on Mariners’ website, Greg Johns had this to say:

Morse joins a Mariners outfield competition that now includes Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez, Casper Wells, Eric Thames, Carlos Peguero, (Raul) Ibanez and (Jason) Bay.

So, we have eight guys, Morse, Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez, Casper Wells, Eric Thames, Carlos Peguero, Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay, battling for three outfield spots, four if you count the DH.

Now, the best hitter in that group is probably Morse, but he’s not much of a fielder. That screams designated hitter or first baseman to me. I would imagine that most of the at bats at those two positions will be taken by Morales and Morse. That makes Smoak the odd man out.


4. Kendrys Morales

You could probably figure this out by what I just said, but I don’t see this hurting Morales at all. He should be the team’s first baseman or DH anyway, with Morse taking the other position. My original projections were 535 at bats, 79 runs, 26 homers, 83 RBI, two steals, and a .273 average. Adding a bat like Morse in the lineup will only help matters, pretty much across the board.


5. Everyone else

Other than maybe Saunders, I don’t think any of those guys competing for an outfield spot have much fantasy value anyway. But this trade doesn’t help for anyone. The competition for at bats just got a little tougher. Saunders should be about the same. He won’t hit for much of an average, but is an outside threat for 20/20.