O's add Morse in waiver deal with Mariners
Baltimore sends speedy Minor League outfielder Avery to Seattle
NEW YORK -- Needing a boost for the stretch run, the Orioles -- who had been aggressively pursuing another bat -- acquired Michael Morse from the Mariners in a waiver trade on Friday afternoon that sent outfielder Xavier Avery to Seattle.
"We just need a little bit more punch in our lineup and, hopefully, Mike will be able to add that to the team," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said of the right-handed-hitting Morse, who is expected to fill Baltimore's designated-hitter role. "He's had some good offensive numbers over the course of his career. He's a big, physical guy who is athletic and has experience in the postseason."
The O's, who are fresh off Thursday's 3-2 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park, are hoping Morse can rebound from a disappointing campaign. The 31-year-old started the season well in his return to the Mariners -- the team he debuted with in 2005 -- but a broken finger and a strained hamstring set him off track. In just 76 games for Seattle, Morse posted a .226/.283/.410 slash line, including 13 homers.
"He's a professional hitter with some pedigree of success," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Morse, whom the organization has had interest in for a while and won the waiver claim on him on Wednesday.
"He presents options for us...It seems like every left-hander alive and breathing is going to come out of the woodwork [to face the Orioles]. He can help us with that some."
"It was kind of the last piece, so to speak, for us," first baseman Chris Davis said of Morse, whom Showalter said could fill in for Davis or in the corner outfield spots. "I'm glad we got him. It's big for us. I think runs are going to be at a premium down the stretch, and anytime you can add a power right-handed bat, it's going to be good for us. We have a lot of left-handed bats, a lot of guys that switch-hit, but having a guy that can do some damage from the right side, is going to be huge for us."
A member of the Nationals last season, Morse batted .302 with six homers in the last month of the regular season before going 5-for-19 with a homer in the postseason. He spent four years in Washington (2009-12) after four up-and-down seasons with the Mariners, and posted a career-high 31 homers and 95 RBIs in '11.
"He's a big impact in the lineup," Nats manager Davey Johnson said Thursday upon hearing the news. "Huge at Camden Yards, I shudder to think. That ballpark's made for him. He's a right-center hitter, and that's the jet stream. He's a good fit there."
Morse, who will wear No. 38 with his new club, was in Houston with the Mariners and he has to be added to the Orioles roster at some point on Saturday. Given that the O's are playing an afternoon contest, Showalter wasn't sure if Morse would be an available player or not by then.
Baltimore also won the waiver claim on Minnesota's Josh Willingham, but the two clubs were unable to swing a deal. The Orioles were also heavily rumored as the club that wanted Kendrys Morales, whom the Mariners pulled back off waivers. But Seattle needed a roster spot for Friday night's debut of young starting pitcher, Taijuan Walker, and it came together quickly after the speedy Avery was named as the player in exchange for Morse.
"It's a tribute to our scouting and player development that we developed a player to the point that we could get Michael back for him," Showalter said of the 23-year-old Avery, who is now ranked No. 17 on MLB.com's Top 20 Prospects for the Mariners. "It's a good spot for him. I'm happy for Xavier. He's really come on here at the end and he did well in Double-A this year. I'm sure they saw him good the last couple of weeks. He fits them good."
Avery has 29 steals with 70 runs scored in 120 Minor League games this season, split between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.