Around the NL East: Rafael Soriano returns, Mike Morse leaves, Avoiding Arbitration and WBC

Scott Cunningham

Business is starting to pick up again, headlined by the return of a familiar face and the departure of a nuisance to the Braves.

Welcome back to the basement.

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Nationals sign Rafael Soriano to two-year deal - MASN
Two years, $28M, with an option for a third year based on games finished. Interestingly, $14M of the original $28M is deferred money, which means the Nationals run the risk of getting Bobby Bonilla'd or just losing more money than they should on interest alone for a guy no longer there. Either way, sure it makes the Nats better at first glance, but I've been debating with my best friend who is a Nats fan, that this could potentially disrupt the Nationals' bullpen, especially the earning potential of the guys that Soriano will likely cut in line to close over, in Drew Storen and especially Tyler Clippard. Arbitration cases still rely on dated stats like save totals, and when neither of them get the opportunity to amass them like Soriano will, it will undoubtedly affect their earning power, and nobody likes that. But either way, it'll be interesting to see our former closer pitching for the bad guys now; I know Dan Uggla (1.582OPS) and Ryan Howard (1.667OPS) are looking forward to seeing him again.

Former closer, Drew Storen avoids arbitration - Nationals Journal
One year, $2.5M, with a boatload of incentives based on games finished, which almost seems like a cruel joke, considering he just lost his job of finishing out games to Rafael Soriano. So when he doesn't finish 52 games like he did in 2011, he can think about the $750k in bonuses he's not going to get.

Mike Morse traded to Mariners in three-team deal - Nationals Journal
In the surprise of the century the Nationals traded away the unnecessary Mike Morse to where it all began for him, the Seattle Mariners in a three-team deal also involving the Oakland A's. More importantly, the Nationals get back A.J. Cole, one of the pitching prospects used just last winter, in the deal that brought Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals. In the span of a week, the Nationals fortified their bullpen, unloaded an unnecessary Mike Morse, and shored up the starting pitching on the farm by getting Cole back; not bad at all.

Mike Morse trying to act like he's happy to be going first-to-worst - Nationals Journal
Seriously, nice try, but there's no way Morse can be happy about this. I don't know what the Nats would have gotten back, but I was imagining a scenario where Morse and Tyler Clippard went to the Yankees or something, but instead Morse is going from the team with the best record in baseball, to the cellar of the AL West. In Seattle; a city 3,400 miles away from his home in Miami. I'm sure he'll be thrilled about having to move his sweet ride all the way to the rainy coast.

The Nationals hate America - Nats Insider
Okay maybe it's an exaggeration, but zero Nationals are participating on Team USA for the World Baseball Classic. Not even a just a reliever? Ironically, Danny Espinosa who is about as American as the Triple Whopper, is joining team Mexico.

When his baseball career ends, he could probably join the WWE - The Bog
This isn't a repeat of a few years ago, and although they're not using the phrase ITBSOHL, Roger Bernadina has been hitting the weights hard again and once again appears to be ITBSOHL, ripping out of his shirts and flexing like Lex Luger.

Jesus Flores finally freed - Nationals Journal
After years of dealing with injuries, inconsistencies and constantly being pushed back in line, Jesus Flores is a National no more. Now he probably won't flourish into the promising young catcher he used to be, but signing a minor league deal with the Dodgers, he's at least free of constantly being pushed aside for pretty much everyone else.

The Nationals now being good probably has nothing to do with Viera wanting to keep the Nationals for Spring Training - Nats Insider
It's no secret that Viera, Florida is pretty much the most undesirable Spring Training home in the Grapefruit League. It's far as heck from everyone else, and for those who have to play there, there's pretty much nothing there. And for a few years, it was fitting that a crap team like the Nationals were stuck there, but now that they're a very good team now, the tune has changed; and the Nats have been trying to get out for years now, but now they're actually in a position to where they might succeed.

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It's pronounced "Dar-No?" Well, DarNo is planning on winning a roster spot - NY Post
Despite the fact that we typically like to laugh at all the goofy things the Mets do, I'm looking forward to seeing what progresses with Travis d'Arnaud. I mean, who doesn't like witnessing the rise of a promising young player, regardless of what team he plays for? But either way, despite the fact that the penny-pinching Mets will probably stash him in AAA until July for service clock reasons, d'Arnaud is going to be playing his butt off in Spring Training, thinking he might actually have a shot at breaking in on the 25-man roster.

Daniel Murphy taking time to chat while doing charity work - NY Daily News
While assisting hurricane victims in Far Rockaway (slightly south of JFK airport), Murph takes some time to talk Mets with the probing media. He generally likes the direction the team is going, and their patient approach, and that they're doing mostly the right moves.

Scott Hairston and the Mets not really seeing eye-to-eye - AA
One of the more actually reliable bats throughout the last two years, Hairston requested two-years, $8 million. The Mets only want to go one year, $2 million. Yeah, we're going to have to go back to the drawing board here.

Bobby Parnell avoids arbitration - MetsBlog
My first thought was "really?" because it's Bobby Parnell, but it turns out that he didn't have a terrible season in 2012, and was statistically one of the brighter spots on the team, coming off of a season in which he lowered his hits/9, HR/9, BB/9, and had his best K/BB ratio ever, while contributing 1.3 bWAR in the process. Now if he keeps those numbers up, then $1.5M the Mets are spending will be worth it, but being Bobby Parnell, I have to question on whether or not that's a smart wager.

There's something to be said about Brian Wilson when the Mets aren't even interested in him - NY Post
Sure, a lot of it has to do with the inordinately quick turnaround from when he had Tommy John Surgery, but it's more fun to imagine that it's because he's such a clown. And considering the depressing list of names that the Mets have been looking at, such as Joe Saunders, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kyle Farnsworth, the fact that a guy like Brian Wilson is shunned is pretty comical to me.

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Jimmy Rollins commits to Team USA for World Baseball Classic - TGP
The 34-year old J-Roll joins Team USA for the second time, having been a part in 2009. It is one of the few times I would be wholeheartedly rooting for Rollins, but I have to say it is a big concerning that he is the only shortstop on the roster, with the only guy capable of backing him up named would be the 35-year old Willie Bloomquist.

Chase Utley supposedly doing very well why does it feel like we've heard this before - Phillies Nation
I won't argue the debate that Utley is probably one of the best second basemen of all time, but let's not ignore facts like this:

Utley has not played in a Spring Training game since 2010.

His knees haven't been reliable for a whole season in years, and he's demonstrated declining numbers the longer he goes.

Phillies sign Aaron Cook to minor league deal - High Cheese
Essentially this is more or less a try to bolster minor league depth, but at the same time, the proverbial "if" Aaron Cook can regain some of his old talent back from his time in Colorado, he could be a useful back-end starter. If he can crack the major league roster, his deal can reach up to $1.625M for the season.

Phillies also sign Rodrigo Lopez to minor league deal - TGP
The veteran rock of the Gwinnett Braves rotation from 2011, journeyman Rodrigo Lopez makes his second stint with the Phillies, on a minor league deal. Much like Aaron Cook, the chances of him making the major league roster aren't high, but there's at least one mil in it for him, if he can. AAA-Lehigh Valley might have one of the most veteran-laden rotations of all time this year.

Phillies also sign Juan Cruz to take stab at the bullpen - Beerleaguer
The 34-year old thrower is your typical high-strikeout-high-walks guy that every team takes chances on thinking they can fix them every year. But considering the shakiness of the Phillies bullpen prior to Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon, pretty much anyone should get a shot this season.

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Logan Morrison hasn't even begun rehab on knee, probably not going to start season - Fish Stripes
You know, I actually forgot that Logan Morrison existed for a while there. Lost in the skirmish during the Marlins' fire sale, Giancarlo's displeasure, and the fact that he had a crappy 2012 season, LoMo kind of kept to himself throughout the last few months supposedly (I don't twitter). But after multiple surgeries on his knee, he hasn't even begun to swing, throw, or even run up to this point. Suffice to say, he won't be doing anything during Spring Training, and he'll certainly not be ready come the start of the season.

Giancarlo set to represent Team USA in World Baseball Classic - Palm Beach Post
Now here's a guy I really can't wait to cheer for during the WBC. I'd say it's a great opportunity for foreign countries to get a glimpse of this monster, but the USA's first round is against Mexico, Canada and Italy, with only the latter's team really the only ones who may not have been as exposed to Giancarlo before.

Marlins begin cobbling change for minor league deals, sign Austin Kearns, Nick Green - Sun Sentinel
I guess this is going to be the start of several more months of seemingly filler guys signing minor league deals with the Marlins. There's a draw to it though, because of how crappy the team is likely going to be, even the most marginal of talents should have greater odds of breaking into a 25-man roster on the Fish than many other teams.

Jeffrey Loria throws shroud of silence over his front office - Fish Stripes
President David Samson, who has always been one of the more accessible team presidents in MLB has been given the gag-order from everyone's favorite team owner, Jeffrey Loria, from doing any sort of radio shows or interviews moving forward. I'm sure nobody really cares, because that gives sports outlets that much more time to talk about the Dolphins.

And speaking of the Dolphins, guess who's getting some extreme resistance to getting funds to upgrade their venue? - Marlins Diehards
Just when we thought we'd heard the last of SunLiphinSharkProPlayerRobbie Stadium, the Miami Dolphins, the one team actually cared about in Miami, wants to do some upgrades. Surprisingly, that idea is meeting a good bit of resistance, while the Marlins twiddle their thumbs and pretend like they never screwed any taxpayers or anything ever.

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