By Jason Shetler
If you were to put together a list of the most underrated offensive players in baseball over the last several years, Michael Morse would certainly be on there. During his four seasons with the Washington Nationals from 2009 to 2012, Morse posted an .857 OPS and a 130 OPS+. He was also a key contributor in leading the San Francisco Giants to their third World Series crown in five years last season, as he put up an .811 OPS, an OPS+ of 130 and a 2.2 oWAR.
The solid numbers for Morse in 2014 earned him a two-year deal with the Miami Marlins worth $16 million this past offseason. He dealt with a finger injury in the first half, and wasn’t able to get anything going, as he posted just a .588 OPS.
The Pirates were looking to add a bat at the trade deadline in an effort to improve the bench after getting minimal production from it in the first half, specifically with Corey Hart and Jose Tabata. Just a day before the deadline, Morse was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a three team trade involving the Marlins and the Atlanta Braves. Pirates GM Neal Huntington would acquire Morse from the Dodgers at the deadline, and at the same time was able to rid himself of the Tabata contract.
Since joining the Pirates, Morse has put up impressive numbers, posting a .420 on base percentage, an .878 OPS, and a 136 OPS+ in 39 games. Meanwhile, Tabata had just a .286 on base along with a .623 OPS for AAA Oklahoma City. He wasn’t even a September call up for the Dodgers, so the trade is looking like an absolute steal for the Bucs. It’ll be interesting to see what the Pirates decide to do this offseason as it pertains to Pedro Alvarez. Morse is under contract while Alvarez would appear to have good trade value offensively for American League teams looking for a DH. Whether or not the Pirates part ways with Alvarez in the offseason, Morse one way or another should be a valuable piece for them next season.