The Miami Marlins have signed Michael Morse to a two year deal worth $12 million reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Morse, 32, could slot into first base with the Marlins, either as a platoon partner with Garrett Jones or in a full-time role. A $12 million price tag seems attractive after seeing designated hitters Billy Butler and Kendrys Morales garner $30 million and $18 million, respectively.
After an injury-marred 2013 campaign where he hit a miserable .215/.270/.381, Morse signed a one year, $6 million deal with the San Francisco Giants. His 2014 campaign was much more respectable, as Morse hit .279/.336/.475 while playing half his games in the offensively-challenged environment that is AT&T Park. He carried a solid line against right-handers as well.
The lead-footed slugger owns a career .281/.335/.473 slash line but just 3.6 fWAR in a little more than 2500 career plate appearances. Other than a strong 2011 campaign with the Washington Nationals, he’s been just a little better than replacement level. In 2011, Morse mashed his way to 31 home runs and a .303/.360/.550 batting line.
Morse doesn’t offer much as an all-around player. He’s a bat-first guy in every sense of the term. If he’s healthy, he should be able to provide some punch to the Marlins lineup as a first baseman or pinch hitter. Steamer projects a batting line of .259/.312/.444 with 16 home runs in 97 games. His defensive projection is miserable, but with a full offseason to get acclimated to first base and less time in the outfield, he may be able to cut it.
The Marlins have engaged in a series of moves this offseason with the hopes of contending for a playoff spot in a division that, with the exception of the Nationals, appears to be quite weak. Earlier in the offseason they signed Giancarlo Stanton to a huge extension, and since then they have traded for Dee Gordon and Mat Latos. Morse doesn’t move the needle very far in their favor, but signing him helps them upgrade a very weak first base position.