Nyjer Morgan Rumors

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

Nyjer Morgan Switches Agents, Weighing MLB Return

33-year-old outfielder Nyjer Morgan has switched agents, moving from Turner Gary Sports to Team One and Millenium Sports, according to a report from ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. After a strong campaign in Japan last season, Morgan is entertaining offers from both MLB and Japanese clubs.

Six to eight MLB teams have expressed interest in Morgan, new representative Jonathan Maurer tells Crasnick. Morgan last played in MLB in 2012 with the Brewers, when he posted a .239/.302/.308 line in 322 plate appearances. He does have two seasons with a better-than-.750 OPS (2009 and 2011), however, and has spent most of his career in center field. Last season, playing for the Yokohama Bay Stars, Morgan notched a .294/.361/.434 line over 424 plate appearances, including his first double-digit home run season as a professional.

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Minor Moves: Gillespie, Palmer, Ramirez, Blackley, Morgan

Here are some minor moves to pass on …

  • The Mariners announced three minor league signings that come with MLB Spring Training invites. Outfielder Cole Gillespie, along with righties Matt Palmer and Ramon Ramirez, will try to impress the Seattle brass in Peoria, AZ. All three players have seen MLB action, though only Ramirez (3.42 ERA in 433 2/3 innings as a reliever) has a history as a big league regular.
  • Angels minor league backstop Carlos Ramirez has received a 100 game ban for his third positive test for a "drug of abuse," MLB announced. The 25-year-old has yet to see time above Double-A, and has largely failed to hit in three stints at that level.
  • Two former big leaguers experienced status changes in December with regard to their current careers in Japan. Southpaw Travis Blackley reached terms on a one-year deal with the Rakuten Golden Eagles after spending most of last year in the Astros pen, while outfielder Nyjer Morgan has become a free agent after a productive first season with the Yokohama Bay Stars. (All information courtesy of Nikkan Sports, via Yakyu Baka.)
  • You can keep track of any players currently in DFA limbo via MLBTR's DFA Tracker. Three players currently await a final disposition: Santos Rodriguez (White Sox), Rafael Ortega (Rangers), and Adys Portillo (Padres).

BayStars Sign Nyjer Morgan

Nyjer Morgan has signed with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). Morgan, a Turner Gary Sports client, will earn $1.6MM to play for the BayStars in Japan's Central League.

Morgan played for the Brewers in 2012, posting a .239/.302/.308 batting line in 322 plate appearances. The 32-year-old played all three outfield positions and stole 12 bases in 17 attempts. His best season at the big league level might have been 2011, when he hit .304/.357/.421 for a Brewers team that won the NL Central.

Morgan elected free agency in early November, after being outrighted off of Milwaukee's 40-man roster. If he drew interest from MLB teams it wasn't chronicled on the pages of MLBTR.

Kameron Loe, Nyjer Morgan Elect Free Agency

Right-hander Kameron Loe and outfielder Nyjer Morgan have elected free agency after declining outright assignments to Triple-A, the Brewers announced. Milwaukee had outrighted Morgan off of the 40-man roster yesterday.

Both players would have been arbitration eligible this coming offseason, but with projected salaries of $2.6MM each, they were considered non-tender candidates. Loe, 31, appeared in 70 games this past season, posting a 4.61 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. The 32-year-old Morgan had his offensive numbers decline in 2012. He hit .239/.302/.308 in 322 plate appearances while playing all three outfield positions.