Outfield Bat Options Shrinking: Michael Morse Close to Deal with Marlins (UPDATE)

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Outfield Bat Options Shrinking: Michael Morse Close to Deal with Marlins (UPDATE)

Chicago Cubs

miami marlins home run sculptureFree agent outfielder/first baseman/DH Michael Morse was at one time mentioned as a possible outfield target for the Chicago Cubs, who, if they don’t add a starter in the outfield, are likely to be looking for a veteran, righty bat. Morse never struck me as the right guy, though:

Morse, 32, had a huge bounceback year with the bat, hitting .279/.336/.475 for the Giants. The problem, however, remains Morse’s defense, which is so far below average in the outfield that it almost completely neuters his offensive value. Would you want to have Morse on your bench and as a complementary corner outfielder/1st base backup? Sure. But it seems like he’s going to be able to do a whole lot better than that on the free agent market from a team that can put him at DH or isn’t worried at all about defensive value. Heck, if I’m an AL team, I’d be targeting Morse with a really nice contract offer. It’s hard to see the Cubs being the best fit.

I re-share all that as a precursor to noting that Ken Rosenthal is reporting this morning that the Marlins are close to signing Morse. And if Morse’s deal is at all reflective of what the market for no-defense bats like his has been like, he’ll get a multi-year deal with a significant annual salary. That, too, wouldn’t have made sense for the Cubs.

It remains most likely that, if the Cubs add in the outfield, it will be a complementary veteran like Jonny Gomes, who could provide leadership in the clubhouse, power off of the bench, and a platoon partner in left field for Chris Coghlan. You can certainly debate whether the Cubs would be better served just letting Justin Ruggiano serve that role, but Gomes is a clear target.

Presently, the Cubs have the following options available in the outfield: Coghlan, Ruggiano, Arismendy Alcantara, Jorge Soler, Junior Lake, Matt Szczur, and Ryan Sweeney. Mike Olt, as a utility type, could also conceivably play some corner outfield if necessary.

To me, I still think the Cubs need to add a quality, everyday-ish bat, and the only place that’s happening is in the outfield. It could be a top-of-the-order type, or a power bat. But I don’t know that the Cubs will be able to pull it off without (1) spending more than they’re comfortable on a guy who’s an imperfect fit (a guy like Colby Rasmus), or (2) giving up more prospect currency than they’re presently comfortable giving up.


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.