With Scott Hairston looking less likely to jump from Queens to the Bronx, the Yankees on Tuesday turned their attention to another righthanded hitter who suddenly has come onto the market.
The 30-year-old Morse became expendable when Washington agreed to terms with first baseman Adam LaRoche on a two-year contract Tuesday.
The Nationals already have Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth in their starting outfield. The Yankees, with an all-lefthanded outfield of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki, have been looking for a righthanded bat for some time. They also have an opening at designated hitter.
Morse could fill those slots. But the Yankees are expected to face stiff competition as there are many teams seeking a power bat and only a few hitters available. Morse hit .291 with 18 homers and 62 RBIs in 2012. A year earlier, he hit .303 with 31 homers and 95 RBIs for Washington.
"We're not going to make a bad deal just to move the player out of town," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "We don't have to do it financially . . . We'd move him in the right deal. We're certainly not going to give him away."
Morse is due $6.75 million this season and then is a free agent. That could make him even more attractive to the Yankees, who are looking to get under the $189-million luxury-tax threshold by 2014 and don't want to take on long-term deals.
As for Hairston, the Yankees have interest in him as a bench player, but it appears he can get more money and playing time elsewhere. A return to the Mets seems most likely, but the Phillies and Braves, among others, still could be interested in the 32-year-old. Hairston had his best season in 2012 for the Mets when he hit .263 with 20 homers and 57 RBIs.
If the Yankees and Nationals do make a trade, Morse will get to face his old team in an exhibition game. The teams announced they will play a preseason game on March 29 at 2:05 p.m. at Nationals Park in Washington. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. Tickets are not yet on sale.