In the last two days, the 2012 NL East Champion Washington Nationals have made two big moves, adding closer Rafael Soriano to the bullpen via free agency and dealing middle-of-the-order bat Michael Morse to Seattle as part of a three-team deal with the Mariners and Oakland A's that brings RHP prospects A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen and a PTBNL back to the nation's capital with M's catcher John Jaso going to the Athletics.
Cole, of course, is a former Nats' prospect taken in the 4th Round of the 2010 Draft who was dealt to the A's last winter as one of four players sent to Oakland in return for Gio Gonzalez. The 6'4'', 180 lb, 21-year-old right-hander pitched at Low and High-A in the A's system in 2012, going (0-7) in eight starts and 38.0 IP with the California League's Stockton Ports in which he had a 7.82 ERA, a 4.99 FIP, 10 walks (2.37 BB/9) and 31 Ks (7.34 K/9) before he was sent down to the Midwest League's Burlington Bees. With the A's Class-A affiliate, Cole was (6-3) in 19 starts and 95.2 IP over which he walked 19 (1.79 BB/9) and K'd 102 (9.60 K/9).
Cole was ranked 4th in the Nats' system by Baseball America before the deal that sent him to Oakland along with RHP Brad Peacock, LHP Tom Milone and catcher Derek Norris in return for LHP Gio Gonzalez and RHP Robert Gilliam. After one season in the A's organization, Cole was ranked by Baseball America as the 3rd overall prospect in the Athletics' system with BA giving the right-hander the "Best Control" tag in their "Best Tools" section as well.
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters recently that if he was going to trade Morse, he would have to get, "... either controllable major league help or prospects to help [fill] the minor league system," in return for the 30-year-old slugger who posted a .294/.343/514 line with 68 doubles and 67 HRs in 378 games and 1353 plate appearances over four years with Washington following the June '09 trade that brought him to D.C. from Seattle in return for OF Ryan Langerhans. FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote last week that sources he spoke to told him the Nationals were asking for, "... high-ceiling prospects and possibly a left-handed reliever," in trade talks about Morse.
A.J. Cole fits the bill as a high-ceiling prospect who replaces some of the depth the Nationals have traded away in the Gio Gonzalez deal and the trade with the Minnesota Twins that brought Denard Span to Washington for 2011 1st Round pick Alex Meyer. Along with Cole, the Nationals have added right-hander Blake Treinen, a 6'4'', 215 lb, 2011 7th Round pick who pitched at high-A in the A's system last season in his second year with the organization, going (7-7) with a 4.37 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 23 walks (2.01 BB/9) and 92 Ks (8.04 K/9) in 24 games, 15 starts and 103.0 total innings pitched.
NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) passed along the following scouting report on Treinen from "current A's reporter and former Daily Northwestern colleague Melissa Lockard" after the deal was announced this evening:
@zuckermancsn Missed time with arm injury last year, but can hit 95 MPH. Solid slider and a heavy sinker. Probably a reliever longterm.— Melissa Lockard (@oakclubhouse) January 17, 2013
Here's what the Nationals had to say about Treinen in their press release on the deal:
"Treinen, 24, was the Athletics’ seventh-round selection in 2011. He went 7-7 with a 4.37 ERA in 24 games/15 starts last season for Stockton in the offensively-charged California League. In two seasons in the A’s system, Treinen has fanned 8.7 and walked just 2.1 batters per 9.0 innings en route to a 4.13 ERA in 45 games/15 starts."
After the Nationals re-signed Adam LaRoche to a 2-year/$24M dollar deal last week, Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo spoke openly about considering offers for Morse. "He's a guy that financially we don't have to move," Rizzo said. "We'd move him in the right deal. We're certainly not going to give him away, but if we can make the right deal that works for Mike and for us as a franchise, we certainly will do that deal."
In an interview on MLB Network Radio tonight, Mariners' GM Jack Zduriencik spoke to hosts Jeff Joyce and Kevin Kennedy about how the three-team deal came together:
"[A's GM] Billy Beane and I had talked for the last couple weeks about some deals between the two clubs and it wasn't going anywhere so it was basically dead and then Mike [Rizzo] got involved and the three of us were having conversations over the last few days and we finally got to the point that we thought we satisfied each other's needs. And we had a desire for what we got in Mike Morse and certainly Billy had a lot of interest [and is] very happy with what he got in Jaso and [Rizzo] wanted to re-add prospects to the organization, so he did that. So I think all of us walked away from this figuring that we did something that was favorable for each of our clubs."
Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore spoke to Morse tonight to get the slugger's thoughts on the trade:
Morse's complete thoughts on getting traded. "I can't lie to you. I’m going to miss everything about D.C."wapo.st/10AtqI2— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) January 17, 2013
Here's what Morse had to say via his own Twitter account (@DC_Beast38):
To all my D.C. Fans , I'm forever grateful for the love and support you have shown me from day 1— Michael Morse (@Dc_BEAST38) January 17, 2013
I will always have a spot for you and this incredible franchise in my heart.— Michael Morse (@Dc_BEAST38) January 17, 2013
I would like to thank the Lerners and Mike Rizzo for giving me the opportunity to play everyday .— Michael Morse (@Dc_BEAST38) January 17, 2013
We made magic last year and I will never forget the Natitude!I will miss my teammates and the moments we've shared.— Michael Morse (@Dc_BEAST38) January 17, 2013
It has been an awesome 4 years, and now it's on to the next chapter. D.C., it has been a fun ride ....Always Beastmode— Michael Morse (@Dc_BEAST38) January 17, 2013
One More Time?: