LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The seductive power of power demonstrated itself Thursday as the Giants announced an agreement with free-agent outfielder Michael Morse on a one-year contract.
The deal, forged at the conclusion of baseball's Winter Meetings, ended the Giants' search for a left fielder. During recent weeks, general manager Brian Sabean repeatedly lamented the relative lack of talented outfielders in this offseason's free-agent crop. But the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Morse has proven capable of being a formidable slugger when he's physically whole, which prompted the Giants' interest.
After enduring a 2013 season in which their left fielders ranked last in the Major Leagues in runs (56), homers (five) and OPS (.651), the Giants plan on assigning Morse a regular role, manager Bruce Bochy said. Gregor Blanco will continue to play left field frequently as a late-inning replacement and as a substitute for the vulnerable Morse.
Morse's recent injury history is daunting. A fractured right pinkie, strained right quadriceps and a wrist ailment that required arthroscopic surgery in October limited him to 88 games with Seattle and Baltimore last season. He went hitless in his last 10 games to finish at .215 with 13 home runs and 27 RBIs.
But from 2010-12 with the Washington Nationals, Morse averaged .296 with a .516 slugging percentage and totaled 64 homers. He especially thrived in 2011, hitting .303 with 31 homers and 95 RBIs. He reached the National League's top 10 in those categories, as well as slugging (fourth, .550) and extra-base hits (eighth, 67).
As one of Morse's former teammates said, "He'll either miss most of the season or hit 28 homers. But he's worth the risk."
The last Giants right-handed batter to amass as many as 28 homers in a season was Jeff Kent, who belted 37 in 2002.
Most Giants officials refrained from commenting publicly, since the deal won't become official until Morse passes his requisite physical examination. That formality is expected to occur next week.
One NL general manager expressed skepticism regarding Morse's defense. Told that the Giants project Morse, 31, as their everyday left fielder, the GM said, "That's a big reach."
The Giants buffered themselves against a disappointing performance from Morse with their contractual agreement. He will receive a $5 million base salary, ESPN's Buster Olney reported. The deal includes performance bonuses that will increase Morse's potential earnings.
Morse has excelled in a small sample of games at AT&T Park. In five career appearances there, he has hit .316 (6-for-19) with three doubles, one home run and four RBIs.