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Monday, December 9, 2013
Hot Stove Talk: Michael Morse

By Richard Durrett

Note: As Richard Durrett tries to fight flight delays and cancellations and get himself to Orlando at some point for the Winter Meetings, let's take a look at some of the names you could hear floated about at Disney World the next few days and how they could apply to the Texas Rangers.

Today's player: Michael Morse

The Rangers have some interest in Morse, almost as a backup plan should things fall through with other options (as first reported by Joel Sherman of The New York Post). Of course, most of the talk when it comes to filling the left field spot belongs to Shin-Soo Choo. But what if the price for Choo escalates to the point where the Rangers don't want to pay?

Morse would be a more budget-conscious move. But he comes with a risk. Morse was injured much of last season and was eventually shut down in September with a left wrist injury (he was dealing with ligament issues before that). He was acquired from Seattle by the Orioles at the end of August, but ended up playing in just 12 games in Baltimore. He played in 76 for Seattle and hit .215 with 13 homers and 27 RBIs in 2013.

But from 2010 to 2012 with the Washington Nationals, Morse hit .296 and averaged 21 homers and 66 RBIs. He had a .861 OPS in that span.

Why he makes sense: Morse has power and is a right-handed batter who can not only play in the outfield, but also first base if needed. He played mainly in the corner outfield spots in 2013. If Morse is healthy and can revert back to the player he was just two seasons ago, the Rangers could get good value for him on a shorter-term deal than anything they'd pay on Choo.

Why he doesn't make sense: The best combination for Texas would be someone who consistently gets on base, has some power and can lead off. Choo, a left-handed hitter, fits that description much better than Morse. And with some of the big-money teams already signing their outfielders, perhaps with some patience, Choo's price doesn't end up in Jacoby Ellsbury territory and the Rangers are ready to take advantage.

Bottom line: I like Morse as a good backup plan should Texas not get the player they want for left field in free agency or even via trade. If the medicals show the wrist is fine, Morse put up solid power numbers for three seasons before last year. I think it would be worth it to see if it was, in fact, the injury.