Adam La Roche and his 30 home runs last season were key in the Nationals' very first playoff berth in their short existence. As La Roche went to free agency, though, the Nationals set their bar low in what they would offer him. La Roche set his high. So, the Nationals remained patient, knowing that they had a full outfield of Jayson Werth, Denard Span, and Bryce Harper, leaving first base for right-handed slugger Michael Morse.
The Nationals won the standoff, today signing La Roche to a two-year contract. Now, presumably, Morse now must be moved. He is not happy:
Hey everyone ,going silent for a while— Michael Morse (@Dc_BEAST38) January 8, 2013
But luckily for Morse, "10 to 11" teams are interested in Morse, reports ESPN and Sirius XM's Jim Bowden, the Nationals former General Manager who put some of the current Nationals pieces together. Yet, the Nationals reportedly could simply keep Morse if they don't get the right deal, Bowden reports. The asking price right now is a left-handed reliever or help replenishing the farm system.
Could the Phillies be one of those 10 or 11 teams? Probably. The Phillies had interest in Morse upon the Nationals signing with Werth. Even if the Phillies could meet the Nationals price (one of their lefty relievers is probably doable), the Nationals probably don't want to trade Morse in-division. He's a valuable right-handed bat and the Nationals probably prefer that he plays in the American League. Tampa Bay is seen as a good trade partner for the Nationals by some journalists, but the Yankees are pushing hard. With those American League teams chomping at the bit for Morse, I would suspect they have many non-Phillies options looking at Morse.
The two-year keeps the Nationals from being locked in as they develop more players. Long-term, the Nationals need first base free. The Nationals have a third base prospect in Anthony Rendon and will need first base for Ryan Zimmerman. Michael Morse is a free agent after 2013. The Nationals did a nice job handling this situation, and it should pay off for them in the return they will get for Morse.