Nationals trade Morse to Seattle in 3-team deal

The Mariners added some much-needed power to their lineup
Wednesday, acquiring Michael Morse from Washington in a three-team
deal that moved catcher John Jaso from Seattle to Oakland.

The NL East champion Nationals reacquired pitching prospect A.J.
Cole, dealt from Washington to Oakland 13 months ago in the trade
for Gio Gonzalez. Washington also got minor league pitcher Blake
Treinen and a player to be named.

Morse hit .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs last year in an
injury-shortened season, playing mostly as a corner outfielder. He
was with the Mariners from 2005-08 before he was traded to the
Nationals for Ryan Langerhans in June 2009.

”I’m just glad this whole thing has unfolded the way it has,”
Morse said on a conference call, noting he was aware he might be
traded by Washington.

”I knew there were teams involved and I knew Seattle was one of
them. That was one of the teams I was hoping for. I love it out
there and I always felt like I had an unfinished-business feeling
in Seattle. I never got to prove myself completely what kind of
player I could be or who I am,” he said.

The deal clears up a logjam in the outfield for Washington and
at designated hitter for Seattle.

The Nationals acquired speedy center fielder Denard Span from
Minnesota this offseason and contemplated moving the 30-year-old
Morse to first base but then re-signed Adam LaRoche. They are set
at the corner outfield spots with Bryce Harper and Jayson
Werth.

Jaso, 29, batted .276 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs last year but
became expendable when Seattle obtained Kendrys Morales and Raul
Ibanez, moves that shift Jesus Montero from a catcher-DH split to
primarily behind the plate. The AL West champion A’s traded
starting catcher Kurt Suzuki to the Nationals last season and
replaced him with rookie Derek Norris.

To open a roster spot for Jaso, Oakland designated catcher
George Kottaras for assignment.

After struggling to score for years, Seattle has been trying to
add offense the entire offseason. The Mariners acquired Morales in
a trade with the Angels and pursued Arizona slugger Justin Upton.
Seattle had a deal in place with the Diamondbacks, but the two-time
All-Star blocked the trade.

Upton’s contract gave him the power to turn down a trade to a
short list of cities, Seattle included.

Morse, however, was happy to return and said he’s comfortable
playing first base or the outfield.

”My main goal is to play every single game. I’m so excited.
Words can’t describe what me and my family are going through right
now. Seattle is where I got my first shot,” he said. ”I’m glad to
be back home.”

Morse had a breakout season in 2011 with Washington, hitting
.303 with 31 homers and 95 RBIs. He was sidelined until June last
season because of a strained back muscle and later missed time with
wrist and thumb injuries.

”He’s got big-time power and has obviously grown and
accomplished quite a bit since he’s been in Washington,” Mariners
general manager Jack Zduriencik said. ”I was very, very excited
today after I talked to him about how excited he was and that
really made me feel good.”

The Mariners, coming off their third straight last-place finish
in the AL West, ranked 27th out of 30 major league teams in runs
last season with 619. They were last in slugging and on-base
percentage, and 19th in home runs (149).

Looking to help an inept offense and finally attract some
hitters, the club is bringing in the fences at spacious Safeco
Field next season.

”If you ask me, I feel like I can hit the ball out of the Grand
Canyon. The fences are not a problem for me,” Morse said.

With the additions of Morse, Morales and reclamation project
Jason Bay, the Mariners think they’ll have a more dangerous
offense.

”It certainly gives you some big pop in this lineup,”
Zduriencik said. ”We were looking for a banger and I think in
Michael we got that. … When you can look around and say you are
in position to acquire an everyday guy who can hit the ball hard
and hit the ball far, it can change your game. One of the things I
have seen since being here is our lack of raw power.”

Jaso, a left-handed hitter, had a .394 on-base percentage last
season and batted .378 with runners in scoring position. He gives
the A’s another option at DH and a catching complement for Norris,
a right-handed hitter who batted .201 with seven homers in 60 games
last year.

Cole, a 21-year-old right-hander, was among four players traded
by Washington to Oakland in December 2011 for Gonzalez. Cole was
0-7 with a 7.82 ERA in eight games at Stockton of the California
League and 6-3 with a 2.07 ERA at Burlington of the Midwest League,
both Class A level.

Baseball America recently rated Cole as the top pitching
prospect in Oakland’s organization.

Treinen was 7-7 with a 4.37 ERA in 24 games at Stockton last
year. The 24-year-old righty was selected by the A’s in the seventh
round of the 2011 draft.

AP Sports Writers Tim Booth and Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to
this report.