People were upset when Michael Morse was traded because people liked Michael Morse.
People were even more upset when the Nationals stopped scoring runs this season because Michael Morse was pretty good at hitting home runs.
But now that we are 62 games into the season, advanced metrics can start to measure the Mariners-Nationals-Athletics Michael Morse trade. And the Nationals are doing better than you might expect.
The Morse trade was an uncommon 3-way trade where the Nationals sent Morse to Seattle, the Mariners sent catcher/DH John Jaso to Oakland, and the A’s sent prospects to Washington.
Morse has hit for power in Seattle with 11 home runs but has a negative value above replacement because of a low OBP (.306) and terrible defense (-1.8 dWAR). Morse has a negative 0.8 WAR overall which is pretty surprising for a guy on pace for close to 30 home runs.
John Jaso has gotten on base in Oakland (.361 OBP) and has provided value for the A’s (0.5 WAR).
But we only care about the Nationals, and so far the Nats have received value. The team received pitcher AJ Cole, who is reportedly doing well in high-A Potomac, pitcher Blake Treinen who has a 3.87 ERA in AA, and a player to be named later. As a top 100 MLB prospect, Cole was the centerpiece of the trade.
But the “player to be named later” is helping the Nationals right now. He’s reliever Ian Krol, who was called up last last week and so far has allowed one hit in three appearances. In fact, Krol has already put up a 0.2 WAR in one week.
The Morse trade was supposed to be a forward-looking one–a smart franchise selling a spare part now to build for the future. But Morse’s negative value and Krol’s positive value make it a smart trade for 2013 too. So far.