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Nationals in no hurry to trade away Morse

WASHINGTON -- Although the Nationals re-signed first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year, $24 million deal on Tuesday, general manager Mike Rizzo is not in a rush to trade Michael Morse.

In fact, Rizzo didn't rule out Morse being on Washington's Opening Day roster. Morse could be a fourth outfielder, spelling Bryce Harper or Jayson Werth in the corner spots, and he could spell LaRoche at first base. Morse could also find himself playing often if one of his teammates lands on the disabled list.

Then again, Rizzo didn't rule out trading Morse either. If the Nats attempt to trade Morse, they would want top prospects in return. It's doubtful they would settle for veteran left-handed relievers in a trade.

"Michael Morse is a middle-of-the-lineup, everyday production bat," Rizzo said. "With that said, we are going to be open-minded. Nobody said that we have to trade Michael Morse. There are no financial ramifications that force us to trade Michael Morse. He is a very economical middle-of-the-lineup hitter that can hit .300 and drive in 100 [runs] at a very affordable price. He is very attractive to a lot of teams. I've heard no less than 10 to 12 teams that have interest in Michael Morse.

"We are going to put the best 25 men on the field for Opening Day. We are going to be patient. If there is a deal out there that makes great sense for us, and makes great sense for Michael Morse, we'll certainly consider it. But there is no gun to our head that we have to trade Michael Morse. We won't trade him just to trade him. It will be a good trade in our favor, or we will just keep him."

The Nationals acquired Morse from the Mariners on June 28, 2009, for outfielder Ryan Langerhans. The deal turned out to be one-sided in favor of the Nats. Langerhans never hit above .218 in his three years with Seattle, and Morse turned out to be Washington's MVP in 2011, when he hit .303 with 31 home runs and 95 RBIs. Last year, Morse missed 60 games because of a lat strain, but he still managed to hit .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs.

"He is great character on our ballclub," Rizzo said. "He keeps things light, upbeat in the clubhouse. He is a clubhouse favorite. Those are all great attributes if you can really play, and he can really play.

"He had a breakout season in 2011, where we finally gave him a chance to play every day. He was the offensive MVP of our ballclub. He handled first base extremely well. We love having him on the team. You speak of him in past tense. I speak of him in present tense, because unless we get the right deal that really helps the ballclub, we are certainly not inclined to give him away."

Washington Nationals, Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse