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What the Mike Morse-to-Seattle trade means for the Red Sox

Earlier this evening, sources reported that the Washington Nationals shipped first-baseman/outfielder Michael Morse to Seattle (the team he played for from 2005 until he was traded to the Nationals in 2009) in a three-team deal that also saw catcher John Jaso traded from Seattle to Oakland and prospects A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen (along with a PTBNL) moved from Oakland to Washington. The move could actually benefit the Red Sox, who are looking to acquire a left-handed hitter who could presumably act as the back-up for the still-unsigned Mike Napoli and act as depth in the outfield. With the acquisitions of first-baseman/DH Kendrys Morales from the Angels earlier this offseason and the arrival of Morse, who can play both first base and the outfield, the Mariners have a couple players who could fill the Red Sox needs who have just become expendable.

The first option is Justin Smoak, the 26-year-old who was the everyday starter at first for the Mariners in 2012. Smoak is a switch-hitting former first-round pick who has compiled a .223/.306/.377 line in his three years in the majors. Smoak hasn’t provided a whole lot of offense thus far in his major-league career, but he’s a better defensive first-baseman than Napoli and could act as a late-inning replacement. Although he was a top prospect and was projected to be a big contributor for Seattle last year, he hasn’t lived up to his potential. If the Mariners have given up on him, the Red Sox have a chance to pull him in for relatively cheap, but it’s hard to believe that Seattle would sell so low on a guy who they planned on being their everyday first baseman at one point.

The other choice, who may suit the team’s needs better, is Mike Carp. Carp bats lefty and has the added benefit of playing both the outfield and first base. While providing more offense than the light-hitting Smoak, Carp hasn’t really gotten the chance to start in the Majors on a regular basis. When he gets the chance to play, he’s certainly a viable option who can even provide a little pop (12 HRs in 313 plate apps in 2011). Carp is certainly expendable in Seattle, since he’s already on the outer fringes of the 25-man roster. Injuries have been a problem for the 26-year-old Carp; he missed time with shoulder and groin injuries, spending 98 days on the DL (in 3 separate stints) and limiting him to only 59 games. The combination of injuries and depth at first base will likely prompt Seattle to move one of the two, and in my opinion, Carp is the more likely to go.