“The Beard” is headed south while “The Beast” returns to his roots in the Pacific Northwest.
In a three-way deal with Oakland and Washington, the Mariners sent catcher John Jaso to the Athletics in exchange for OF/1B Mike Morse, who spent the last four seasons with the Nationals after starting his career in Seattle from 2005-08.
The move is certainly a head scratcher given the glut of 1B/DH/OF’s currently on the Mariners roster, but maybe positional redundancy is the new market inefficiency and Seattle is just outfoxing the rest of the league. Oh what’s the New York, you need an aging slugger who should never, ever play in the field? Too bad! We’ve got them all!
Losing Jaso hurts not just because he was the Mariners best hitter last year (.276/.395/.850) but also because he provided a number of highlights in an otherwise bleak 2012 season. Jaso was an easy guy to like; he had a great beard, he provided clutch hits, and he made us forget all about that Josh Lueke fiasco.
He wasn’t exactly the second coming of Johnny Bench defensively, but Seattle has been content to roll out catchers like Miguel Olivo, Rob Johnson, and Adam Moore over the past few seasons, so why the Mariners decided defense behind the plate was important all of a sudden is anyone’s guess. Jaso was under team control for the next three seasons, and despite his superb offensive performance in 2012, Seattle decided that his inability to hit lefties (in a very small sample) and the impending arrival of Mike Zunino was enough of an excuse to jettison a fan favorite.
In Morse, the Mariners get a player they once traded for Ryan Langerhans (LOL!) that developed into a productive slugger for Washington (64 HR from 2010-2012). Morse doesn’t draw many walks, strikes out a lot, and is a liability on the basepaths and in the outfield. As a designated hitter Morse would be a valuable asset for Seattle, but with that position likely filled by Kendrys Morales, he appears to be penciled in as the starting left fielder, which negates the majority of his value.
To his credit, Morse has said all the right things about his return to Seattle and seems genuinely excited for a second chance with the Mariners. His power is good enough to play in any park and Safeco Field’s new dimensions might allow Morse to crack 25-30 longballs. Is one year of those home runs worth three years of Jaso’s advanced plate approach and high OBP?
And what happens to Raul Ibanez, who was brought in to spend time at 1B/DH/OF? Does he take time away from Michael Saunders in right and Justin Smoak at first or is he simply a waste of money and a roster spot?
No, this isn’t the worst move in franchise history. Neither was the signing of Ibanez, Jason Bay or Jeremy Bonderman, but taken together, they paint the picture of a front office that has lost its way.
You can’t keep treading water when Oakland, Texas, and Los Angeles are committed to contending for the playoffs every season. Seattle is going to start sinking…