Nyjer Morgan Rumors

Minor Moves: Collins, Morgan, Matthews

Here are the latest minor transactions from around the baseball world, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Royals moved lefty Tim Collins from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL, the team announced.  The move was an expected one, as Collins will miss the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March.
  • Outfielder Nyjer Morgan has been released by the Korean Baseball Organization’s Hanwha Eagles, Han Lee of Global Sporting Integration reports.  Morgan signed a one-year, $700K contract with Hanwha in the offseason and hit .273/.405/.333 over 42 plate appearances, but as Lee reports, Morgan had some personality clashes with the coaching staff.  The seven-year MLB veteran appeared in 15 games with the Indians in 2014.
  • The Rangers released left-hander Kevin Matthews, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.  Matthews was picked 33rd overall by the Rangers in the 2011 draft but has only pitched 132 1/3 career minor league innings due to multiple injuries.  Wilson notes that Texas probably could’ve parted ways with Matthews later in the season, though his release may have been quickened after the southpaw was charged with a DWI on Wednesday.

Heyman On McCarthy, Morales, Fujikawa, Morgan

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com ran through some final details on several transactions this morning. Rather than bumping all of those posts to the top of the page at once, I have added the new information and will round up the changes here. (All links to Twitter.)

  • Brandon McCarthy‘s four-year contract with the Dodgers includes a conditional club option that reflects, but is not entirely synonymous with, the one that led to John Lackey playing the upcoming season at league minimum. As Heyman tweets, the Dodgers would hold a 2019 option for $5MM if McCarthy has spent more than 179 days on the DL due to a specific injury, or an $8MM option if he has missed between 119-179 days.
  • In his new deal with the Royals, Kendrys Morales will earn $6.5MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016, says Heyman. He also has a $1.5MM buyout on a $11MM option for 2017.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa will actually receive a $1.1MM total guarantee from the Rangers, Heyman tweets. His deal comes with a $2MM club option and $100K buyout, and that option could rise to as much as $3.5MM if Fujikawa meets certain games-finished thresholds.
  • Outfielder Nyjer Morgan received a $700K deal with the KBO’s Hanwha Eagles, Heyman tweets. That includes a $150K signing bonus and $550K salary.

Minor Moves: Morgan, Snodgress, Cubs

Here are some minor moves from around baseball…

  • Nyjer Morgan has signed a contract with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization, as per a report from Naver Sports (hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net).  Morgan played in Japan in 2013 before signing a minor league deal with the Indians last offseason.  He was only able to play in 15 games for the Tribe due to injury, however, and was released in August.
  • The Angels signed left-hander Scott Snodgress to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports.  Snodgress was non-tendered by the White Sox last week.  The 25-year-old lefty made his Major League debut in 2014, pitching 2 1/3 innings over four games for Chicago.
  • On Thursday, the Cubs, Red Sox and Athletics will complete some business left over from two trades from last summer, ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers tweets.  The A’s will send a player to be named later to the Cubs to complete the deal that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland.  The Cubs will then send another PTBNL to the Sox to complete the two clubs’ deal for Felix Doubront.

Free Agent Notes: Melky, Ervin, Headley, Miller, Soto

The Royals have reached out to a familiar name in the form of Melky Cabrera, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s not clear if the Royals are able to afford Cabrera, who is said by Heyman to be seeking “at least” a five-year deal. He notes that the Reds have also contacted Cabrera’s camp. Additionally, Heyman lists the Mariners, Orioles and White Sox as speculative fits. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that the Blue Jays are still in touch with Cabrera as well. As many have pointed out, Toronto has just three outfielders on its 40-man roster at present. I profiled Cabrera in early October and projected a five-year deal worth just over $66MM.

Some more notes from the free agent market…

  • Also seeking a five-year deal is right-hander Ervin Santana, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. Santana is among the best of the bunch in the second tier of free agent starters, and he’s been rumored to have mutual interest with the Royals. However, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Royals’ comfort level is at three years with Santana. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes projected a four-year, $56MM contract for Santana.
  • Continuing on the theme of five-year contracts, Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reports that the Yankees aren’t willing to give Chase Headley a five-year deal, and it’s believed by some that five years is now his asking price in the wake of both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez signing in Boston. An alternative for the Yankees, Matthews writes, is to play Martin Prado at third base regularly and give prospect Rob Refsnyder a chance to be the everyday second baseman.
  • The Yankees, Red Sox and Astros are all continuing to show strong interest in free agent lefty Andrew Miller, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Miller is believed to be headed for a four-year deal, and the Astros have been somewhat surprisingly linked to him and fellow top reliever David Robertson.
  • Geovany Soto is currently talking to five or six teams, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. A reunion between Soto and the Rangers is a definite possibility, per Cotillo. The free agent market for catchers has few options remaining, putting Soto in a relatively good spot.
  • Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that 10 teams, including the Tigers, have reached out to free agent righty Ronald Belisario after he was designated for assignment by the White Sox and chose to elect free agency (Twitter link). Belisario has a track record of success but struggled in 2014 despite maintaining his velocity and ground-ball rate.
  • Nyjer Morgan is eyeing a return to the Majors and has drawn interest from both MLB and Asian clubs, tweets Cotillo. The 34-year-old spent a bit of time with the Indians last season but had his Cleveland tenure cut short by injury.

Indians Release Nyjer Morgan

The Indians announced that they have released outfielder Nyjer Morgan. The 34-year-old has been on the shelf for nearly three months with a sprained PCL in his right knee. Manager Terry Francona told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link), that it was a mutual decision for the two sides to cut the cord.

Morgan appeared in 15 games for the Indians earlier this season, hitting a healthy .341/.429/.439 with a homer and three stolen bases in 52 plate appearances. That marked his first big league action since 2012, as he spent the 2013 campaign playing overseas with the Yokohama Bay Stars of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, where he slashed .294/.361/.434 in 108 games.

For his career, the sometimes controversial Morgan — also known as “Tony Plush” — is a .282/.343/.366 hitter in 2206 plate appearances between the Pirates, Nationals, Brewers and Indians. Cleveland has seen its center field depth take multiple hits this season, with Morgan and Michael Bourn both having spent significant time on the disabled list.

Added To The 40-Man Roster: Monday

Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:

  • Nyjer Morgan will make the Opening Day roster for the Indians and will therefore need to be added to the club's 40-man, according to a report on Twitter from MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. With Michael Bourn set to open the year on the DL, Morgan figures to play center until Bourn returns, though that may only be for a few games and it is not clear whether he'll have a roster spot beyond that point.
  • The Marlins are expected to add outfielder Reed Johnson to their 40-man and Opening Day rosters, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. As an Article XX(B) free agent, Johnson would have been subject to tomorrow's roster decision deadline, though Cotillo notes that Johnson's deal actually gives him a March 24th opt out that strengthens his collectively bargained protections.

Indians To Sign Nyjer Morgan

7:08pm: Morgan can earn over $1MM if he makes the roster and reaches the incentives in his contract, Crasnick reports on Twitter.

6:34pm: Nyjer Morgan has signed a minor league deal with the Indians, reports Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The deal includes a Spring Training invitation, Crasnick notes. Morgan recently became a client of Team One and Millenium Sports.

Morgan played in Japan last year after seeing action in parts of six seasons, putting up a .294/.361/.434 line in 424 plate appearances for the Yokohama Bay Stars. In 2012 with the Brewers, Morgan mustered only a .239/.302/.308 triple-slash in 322 plate appearances. While his last look at the bigs was subpar, however, Morgan did put up OPS marks of over .750 in both 2009 and 2011.

At 33, Morgan's legs may not be quite what they once were. He notched 42 and 34 stolen bases over the 2009 and 2010 seasons, respectively, but barely mustered double-digits in his last two seasons of big league action and had just three for the Bay Stars last year. It remains to be seen, also, whether he can continue to add value as a plus defensive center fielder.

It could be a tall order for Morgan to break camp with the Indians. Michael Bourn is entrenched in center, and the club already has left-handed bats in Michael Brantley and David Murphy at the corners.

Nyjer Morgan Close To Deal With MLB Team

Nyjer Morgan is close to a contract with an unknown Major League team, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link).  Morgan recently switched agents and was exploring a return to the Majors, as Crasnick reported last week that six-to-eight teams had expressed interest in the outfielder.  Morgan is represented by Jonathan Maurer of Team One and Millennium Sports.

The 33-year-old Morgan hit .294/.361/.434 with 11 homers in 424 PA with the Yokohama Bay Stars in 2013 and had also been fielding offers for another season in Japan.  Perhaps best known for his "Tony Plush" alter ego and his role in helping the Brewers to the 2011 NL Central title, Morgan struggled in 2012 and was subsequently outrighted off MIlwaukee's 40-man roster following the season.

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NL Central Notes: Pirates, Samardzija, Morgan, Cards

The Pirates have earned the No. 1 spot atop the organization talent rankings in the 2014 edition of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook (Baseball America's J.J. Cooper has the details).  The Bucs' strong 2013 draft and their multitude of quality prospects throughout the farm system contributed to the ranking, BA editor John Manuel explained to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  “They have several players we felt would contend to be No. 1 in a lot of different organizations,” Manuel said. “They have several players who fit the profile to be starters on championship-caliber teams. They have more of those than other teams.”

Here's some more from around the NL Central…

  • Jeff Samardzija believes he'd be unlikely to sign an extension with a new team following a trade from the Cubs, the right-hander tells CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney.  “The odds are very slim that I would," Samardzija said.  "For any professional player two years out of free agency, the odds they sign a deal are pretty slim (in that situation)."  Samardzija said his feelings could change if he's actually in that situation, but he tells Mooney that his preference would be to stay with the Cubs.  Click here for an earlier portion of Mooney's pre-Christmas interview with Samardzija.
  • The Reds aren't one of the six-to-eight teams who have shown interest in Nyjer Morgan, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports.  Morgan enjoyed a big 2013 season with the Yokohama Bay Stars and is weighing offers from both MLB and Japanese clubs.
  • The Cardinals seemingly have pitching to spare, but Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out that the club's arms have thrown a lot of extra high-pressure innings over the last few seasons due to the Cardinals' deep playoff runs.  "This is why I have no problem with GM John Mozeliak's obvious desire to hoard pitching. You just never know when you're going to need arms to come to the rescue," Miklasz writes.
  • The Cardinals plan to expand their scouting and development operations within Japan and Cuba over the next year, Mozeliak tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • In other NL Central news from earlier today, the Pirates signed Chris Dickerson to a minor league deal, the Cardinals claimed Rafael Ortega off waivers from the Rangers, Brewers GM Doug Melvin commented on his team's lack of free agent moves, Reds GM Walt Jocketty discussed the difficulties of signing Homer Bailey to an extension.

Twins Notes: Mauer, Pelfrey, Garza, Morgan

SB Nation's Grant Brisbee examines the ups and downs of Joe Mauer's contract and wonders what Mauer would have signed for had he been a free agent this offseason. Mauer is owed $115MM over the remainder of his contract, and while Brisbee feels he'd fall a bit shy of that, he still predicts a healthy six-year, $101MM contract. Mauer would have been the second-best hitter in this year's free agent class, Brisbee notes, pointing out that among 2013-14 free agents, only Robinson Cano has a higher OPS+ than Mauer over the past two seasons. More Twins-related news and rumors…

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post