Michael Morse struggled throughout 2013 but the Giants gave him an opportunity and he thrived in 2014. After trading Morse in July as a result of a slow start, the Miami Marlins were not willing to wait and see if he will produce consistently in 2016.
Although the Marlins were not open to having Morse return next season, he was expected to be in the club’s 2016 plan. The Marlins signed Morse, a Nova High School product, to a two-year deal last winter with the hope he would provide first base stability, something the organization has lacked over the last few seasons. However, inconsistent production and a stint on the disabled list led the Marlins to move Morse before the non-waiver trade deadline.
According to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, Morse wished he received more of an opportunity with the Marlins.
"I came out really bad [but] I wish they would have given me more at-bats just to prove myself. I really never got a chance to play much every day and it was weird because in spring training we had quite a good thing going and a steady lineup.
Miami punctuated a busy offseason by adding Morse, who over 69 games this season has posted a .227/.296/.319 batting line to complement four home runs and 12 RBIs. The organization felt he would have another solid year after batting .279 while hitting 16 home runs and driving in 61 runs for the Giants. The Marlins did not have a notable amount of first base depth before adding Morse and after trading him have even less. Justin Bour appeared to have won the job before Morse left South Florida.
While Morse might feel as if he did not receive an opportunity, he was named the club’s starting first baseman shortly after he was signed. The Marlins never signed him to play the outfield or have him sitting on the bench. Once he was reinstated from the disabled list, he found himself doing one or the other often.
Though his production has slowed down of late, Bour has still proven to be productive first base option. Over 93 games, he is batting .256 but has hit 12 homers and driven in 41 runs. The Marlins do not have many left-handed bats beyond Bour, Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon and Derek Dietrich. The power from the left-handed side of the plate was likely a plus. Morse simply lost his starting job to Bour. Bour was producing at a time when Morse was not.
It appeared the Marlins were going to be competitive after the club played well throughout spring training. Beyond Aaron Crow requiring season-ending Tommy John surgery, there were not any notable injuries. The offense produced and the pitching staff was effective. But the Marlins have been plagued by injuries and inconsistencies throughout the regular season.
Heading into 2016, the Marlins do not have a starting first baseman. Bour could be the favorite, with Dietrich also receiving an opportunity to win the job. The Marlins could add a free agent or acquire a first baseman in a trade, but there are not many available productive starting options.
When the Marlins plan their offseason, first base will likely be among the topics discussed. Morse will not be in the plans because he did not perform well enough given the number of at-bats he received.