Nationals ink multi-year extension with slugger Morse

Fresh off of a breakout season in Washington, Nationals slugger Michael Morse plans to stick around in our nation’s capital for a while longer.

Morse and the Nationals agreed to a multi-year contract extension Friday, according to the team, meaning fans can take some solace in knowing the powerful - yet bubbly - first baseman will remain in D.C. beyond the 2012 season. The terms of the deal are reported to be for about $10.5 million over two years, but the deal was reached prior to arbitration figures being exchanged and was contingent upon a since-completed physical.

Morse, affectionately known as “The Beast,” has enjoyed three seasons with the Nationals after coming over in a trade from Seattle in 2009. That year, Morse saw limited action, tallying 13 hits and a trio of home runs in 32 games. In 2010, Morse gained increased time on the field and subsequently racked up 77 hits and 15 home runs to go along with a then-career-high 41 RBI.

This past season, however, provided the perfect canvas for Morse to make a name for himself. With first baseman Adam LaRoche sidelined for much of the year, Morse stepped in and immediately put up All-Star-caliber numbers. In 146 games, the 29-year-old set career highs in every offensive category, while leading his team with 31 home runs, 95 RBI and a .303 batting average. Morse became just the fourth qualified National to hit .300 since the franchise came to Washington in 2005. He played half of the season at first base but did play 52 games in left field, the likely starting spot should LaRoche hold down first.

In terms of what this signing does to fuel or douse rumors of Prince Fielder coming to Washington, it’s hard to say for certain, but with LaRoche healthy and Morse locked up for at least two more seasons, it’s hard to imagine the Nationals shelling out another multi-year deal for a power first baseman. Right now, Texas seems the most likely destination for the big man.

For his career, Morse holds a .296 average with 52 home runs and 183 RBI in 383 games stretched over seven seasons.

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