The Seattle Mariners have been looking to trade for a bat all offseason long and they have apparently satisfied that need with a familiar face. The Nationals are sending Michael Morse to the Mariners, while the Oakland Athletics are sending pitching prospect A.J. Cole to Washington and receiving catcher John Jaso from Seattle.
The Nationals also get two prospects in the deal, including one to be named later. One of the prospects, coming from Oakland, is pitcher Blake Treinen.
In a corresponding move, the A's designated catcher George Kottaras for assignment, removing him from the 40-man roster.
Morse hit .291/.321/.470 for the Nationals in 102 games in 2012 with 18 HR and 62 RBI. He was originally a member of the Mariners organization before being part of a package traded to the White Sox in exchange for Freddy Garcia back in 2004. Morse caught on with the Nationals in 2010 and hit a career-high 31 home runs with 95 RBI in 2011.
It was a short stay in Seattle for Jaso. The catcher that was acquired from the Rays last year in exchange for relief pitcher Josh Lueke is now going to division rival Oakland in the deal. Jaso was the M's top bat in 2012, hitting .276/.394/.456 with 10 HR in 108 games. There is concern about his defense behind the plate and his ability to hit left-handed pitching (.119/.259/.143 in only 42 at-bats), which could have made him expendable. That, the rise of catcher Mike Zunino in the minor league system, plus the presence of Jesus Montero, led to Jaso being dealt.
Jaso should be able to immediately contribute every day for Oakland.
Finally there is Cole, the prospect that was traded away from the Nationals in December of 2011 as they acquired Gio Gonzalez. Cole and three other prospects went to the A's, but apparently Washington missed him too much. He dominated 19 starts at the Single-A level, striking out 102 batters in 95.2 innings with a 2.07 ERA but struggled in eight starts in the High-A Cal League. However, he is just 21 years old, and was Baseball America's No. 57 prospect going into last season.
It is hard to say which of these teams improved the most, but there is already some heavy consternation from Mariners fans that they know which team immediately got worse. Maybe the second time in Seattle will be a charm for Morse.