Ken Rosenthal has confirmed what we've expected for weeks now: the Red Sox are in on Mike Morse.
This news will come as no surprise to anyone who's been following the Mike Napoli situation. It's been more than a month now since the Red Sox were said to have come to an agreement with the former Ranger, with little apparent movement from either side on the issue surrounding his hip that has delayed the deal for so long now. Whether the Red Sox are actually looking to go a different direction, or are simply trying to gain some leverage, it's an obvious move for them to go looking at other first base options.
Morse, who has seen time in the majors on-and-off since 2005, enjoyed a pair of breakout seasons in 2010 and 2011 before seeing his numbers fall to .291/.321/.470 in 2012. Even as a right-handed batter, Morse could bring some stability to the Sox' lineup against right-handed pitching given his relatively even splits. While he's not likely to bring much in the way of defense, Napoli wouldn't be either, and Morse comes in noticeably cheaper in terms of dollars, owed just $6.75 million this year (and counting for just $5.25 million towards the CBT threshold).
That's not to say there aren't downsides to targeting Morse. For starters, the Nationals have him now, so whatever price they ask has to factor into things. There's been talk that their demands might be reasonable, but at the moment that's mostly just hearsay and speculation. The Sox would also be giving up some amount of upside since Morse has never hit the heights Napoli did, and there's no seemingly preternatural affinity for Fenway on display. Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is that Morse has just one year left on his contract, meaning the Sox could find themselves without a first baseman again heading into 2014.
We should probably keep on hoping that the Sox get this deal done with Napoli, especially if they're able to shave it down to two years. He's a player who really could be great in Fenway, and brings some versatility to the team thanks to his ability to play behind the plate. That being said, if the deal does end up falling through, Morse would be a very reasonable replacement.