San Francisco Giants to Sign Michael Morse
The Giants have reportedly reached a deal with left fielder Michael Morse for one year and either $5 or 6 million according to different sources. The deal also includes incentives.
Morse was hurt last year, and he has hit much better as a National Leaguer than as an American Leaguer, so the hope is he’ll be the right-handed hitting power bat the Giants have been looking for, either as the starting left fielder, or more likely in a platoon with Gregor Blanco. Morse’s outfield defense is terrible, so there’s also talk that he may end up playing some first base, where his defense isn’t quite so bad, with Brandon Belt spending some time in the outfield. However, the Giants are on record saying that Belt is their 1Bman and won’t be playing the outfield.
There were reports yesterday that the Giants were in negotiations with former Texas Ranger Jeff Baker, a left field candidate who had flown under my radar. While Baker’s 11 home runs in 154 at bats last year were a fluke, his career .875 OPS against left-handed pitchers suggests he’d have been an excellent platoon candidate with Blanco. In fact, Baker’s career OPS with the platoon advantage is considerably better than Morse’s (.819 with the platoon advantage, .802 without).
Additionally, Baker’s corner outfield defense is excellent, and he can also play all the infield positions except shortstop, which greatly adds to his value. Baker at 33 next year season is a year older than Morse, but Baker is probably the kind of player who will age better than Morse.
In short, I was a little sad the Giants didn’t sign Baker, because defense and defensive flexibility have value. Also, Blanco should start in left against right-handed pitchers because of his .353 career on-base percentage with the platoon advantage, his speed and his excellent outfield defense.
There’s still a possibility the Giants could sign Baker also. While the Giants have a lot of younger and cheaper 2B/3B options in Joaquin Arias, Tony Abreu, Nick Noonan and Ehire Adrianza, they still need a fifth outfielder and don’t have many good options internally. GM Brian Sabean loves his veteran role-players who are good in the clubhouse and Baker is certainly that.