Nyjer Morgan Rumors

NL Central Links: Dempster, Hamilton, Brewers, Cards

It was on this day in 1962 that Joe Morgan signed his first pro contract, joining the Houston Colt .45s as an amateur free agent.  Morgan spent his first nine seasons in Houston before being traded to the Reds and establishing himself as arguably the best second baseman in baseball history.

Here's the latest from the NL Central…

  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer confirmed to ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla that the team had made "contact and it was preliminary" with Ryan Dempster, though Hoyer was quick to minimize the importance of the meeting, saying "it was sort of a bump-into thing."  It was reported earlier today by MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that the Cubs had been in touch with Dempster's agent.
  • "We’ve got the connection with (hitting coach) Johnny Narron but we don’t have the connection with U.S. Bank,” Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the chances of the Brewers splurging on Josh Hamilton this winter.  Melvin noted that he would like to acquire relief pitching this offseason but was wary given the rising prices of quality bullpen arms.
  • Also from Haudricourt, he hears from Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash that the club has no plans to re-sign either right-hander Jose Veras or outfielder Nyjer Morgan, both of whom were outrighted off Milwaukee's 40-man roster over the last two days.
  • The Cardinals have signed 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Henry Alvarado to a $150K contract, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America.  Alvarado is described as being best suited to left field or possibly first base, and he "stands out for his righthanded bat, sound approach and occasional power."

Outrighted To Triple-A: Astros, Morgan, Veras, Braves

The latest outright assignments…

  • The Astros announced that Fernando Abad, Sergio Escalona, Edgar Gonzalez, Jose Valdez, Kyle Weiland and the recently-DFA'ed Matt Downs have been outrighted to Triple-A.  All will become free agents except Weiland, who has been placed on the Triple-A roster.
  • The Brewers have outrighted Nyjer Morgan to Triple-A, the team announced.  Morgan was a key part of the Brewers' NL Central-winning team in 2011 but struggled last season, hitting .239/.302/.308 and getting less playing time in the Milwaukee outfield.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently projected Morgan as a non-tender candidate.
  • The Brewers also confirmed that Jose Veras has elected to become a free agent after being outrighted off the 40-man roster yesterday.
  • The Braves outrighted right-hander Erik Cordier to Triple-A, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports (Twitter link). The 26-year-old pitched at three levels this past season, posting a 5.85 ERA with 7.5 K/9 in 32 1/3 total innings. He walked 32 of the 155 batters he faced, however. The Braves announced that they also outrighted catcher J.C. Boscan and left-hander Robert Fish off of the 40-man roster. Boscan elected free agency, according to the team.

Brewers Notes: Starting Rotation, Hart, Weeks

The Milwaukee Brewers experienced a roller coaster season in 2012 marked by injuries, blown saves, and being 12 games under .500 on August 20 before embarking on a 24-6 run that boosted them back into the Wild Card race until being eliminated on the final weekend of the season. Club officials say everyone feels better about the state of the franchise heading into the offseason. But, how will that shape the winter for the Brewers? Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discussed that topic and other issues in a recent online chat with fans. Here are the highlights:

  • GM Doug Melvin will be looking to add a veteran to the starting rotation and Haudricourt named Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, and Kyle Lohse as possibilities. A fan suggested Brandon McCarthy and Haudricourt acknowledged the Brewers will perform their due diligence, but any addition will only be made if the pitcher is affordable, the right fit, and wants to come to Milwaukee. 
  • Haudricourt anticipates the Brewers signing a free agent starting pitcher is a more likely scenario than trading for one because the club has some payroll flexibility and they've already traded away a lot of prospects for pitching in recent years.
  • Don't look for the Brewers to deal Corey Hart or Rickie Weeks to create more payroll flexibility. Haudricourt would be surprised if Hart, entering the final year of his contract with a 2013 salary of $10 MM, is traded despite the presence of Southern League MVP Hunter Morris. Weeks, due a guaranteed $21MM over the next two seasons, should also be safe, Haudricourt theorized, because the Brewers have enough money coming off the books to not have to worry about his salary. 
  • Haudricourt expects the payroll be less in 2013 than the $100 million-plus of this year, a spending level that should put the franchise in the red for 2012.
  • Expect Nyjer Morgan to be non-tendered. It was obvious, Haudricourt opined, that Morgan was being phased out and having made $2.3MM and eligible for arbitration again, he probably will be replaced by Logan Schafer, a less expensive option who is considered a better defender. Haudricourt did praise Morgan for conducting himself professionally and never popping off or openly complaining about his decrease in playing time.
  • Haudricourt listed some minor league prospects who took a big step this year and that fans should keep an eye on next season, including the aforementioned Morris. 

Central Notes: Myers, Soriano, Ryan, Morgan, Cubs

Earlier today, we looked at the latest on the White Sox courtesy of Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  The club will decline options on Jake Peavy and Kevin Youkilis, but Kenny Williams will still work to retain both veterans.  Speaking of Williams, he will soon be promoted from General Manager to team president with Rick Hahn assuming his former title.  Here's more out of the Central divisions..

  • Williams says that reliever Brett Myers could start for the White Sox in 2013, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.  The White Sox hold a $10MM option on Myers for next season that they can buy out for $3MM.
  • Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano told reporters that he is open to being traded in the offseason, according to the Associated Press.  Soriano hopes to have one more shot at making a trip to the World Series before his career is through.  The 36-year-old went on to say that he is open to retiring after the two remaining years on his contract are up.
  • Twins manager Rod Gardenhire suggested to Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that the club will probably have a press conference tomorrow to remove the interim tag from General Manager Terry Ryan's title.
  • Brewers outfielder and former ACES client Nyjer Morgan says that he is now represented by agent Rex Gary, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.  The outfielder is set to be a free agent for the first time following the 2014 campaign.
  • The Cubs dismissed third base coach Pat Listach tonight, tweets Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com.  The decision was made by the club and manager Dale Sveum said that he would recommend him for any other coaching job (Twitter link).

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Monday

In advance of tomorrow's 11am central time deadline to exchange arbitration figures, settlements will be rolling in today.  Follow all of the action with MLBTR's arbitration tracker.  The latest for players under $4MM:

NL East Notes: Phillies, Mets, Morgan

Jimmy Rollins said earlier today that there's a "good chance" he re-signs with the Phillies after the season. Here are some more updates from around the NL East, where all five teams are in offseason mode…

  • Ryan Howard's five-year, $125MM contract ranks fourth on Joe Posnanski's list of the ten worst contracts in baseball at SI.com. Howard, whose deal kicks in next season, is "becoming a less and less useful player all the time," Posnanski writes.
  • The Phillies interviewed Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan for their director of player development position this week, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Philadelphia now has a short window to decide whether they're going to offer Jordan the job, which previously fell under Chuck LaMar's responsibilities.
  • The Phillies will look to sign a free agent closer this offseason and a division rival could be interested in similar relievers. GM Sandy Alderson has hinted that the Mets will find their next closer on the free agent market, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.
  • A Spring Training conflict between Jayson Werth and Nyjer Morgan nearly escalated to the point that punches were thrown, according to Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post. Now a member of the Brewers, Morgan has emerged as a star (along with his many alter egos). 

Quick Hits: Zito, Rangers, Morgan, Angels

Links for Thursday night..

Brewers Acquire Nyjer Morgan

Nyjer Morgan said on Friday he didn't expect to be a National by Opening Day, and the team didn't waste much time validating that prediction. The Nationals have sent Morgan to the Brewers in exchange for Cutter Dykstra, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The Brewers will also send $50K to the Nats in the deal, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Morgan, 30, was unlikely to crack the Nationals' roster, and told Ladson earlier this weekend, "Maybe I'm not a fit here anymore. It's time to move on." The Brewers, meanwhile, were keeping an eye on Morgan after trading Chris Dickerson to the Yankees on Friday. GM Doug Melvin had denied interest, saying the club was willing to enter the season with in-house options Brandon Boggs and Jeremy Reed, but suggested today that the Nats changed their asking price (Twitter link). Morgan will now take Boggs' spot on the roster, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy (via Twitter).

Dykstra, the son of former major leaguer Lenny Dykstra, was selected by the Brewers in the second round of the 2008 draft. The 21-year-old hit .312/.416/.411 in 353 plate appearances at Class A Wisconsin in 2010.

Nationals Notes: Morgan, Broderick, Maya

Let's check out the latest news and rumors on the Nationals, who will open the season with $126MM man Jayson Werth hitting second….

  • Nyjer Morgan, who is reportedly being eyed by a few teams, doesn't expect to open the season with the Nationals. "I just think this place isn't for me," the outfielder told MLB.com's Bill Ladson. "I'm not saying there are bad people here. It's just that, maybe, I'm not a fit here anymore. It's time to move on."
  • In the same MLB.com piece, Ladson adds that Brian Broderick, a Rule 5 selection from the Cardinals, is expected to earn a spot on the Nats' Opening Day roster. Broderick figures to be used in short and long relief, though he can also start if needed.
  • Yunesky Maya was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse today, the team announced. Washington signed the Cuban pitcher to a four-year deal last summer.

Teams Eyeing Nyjer Morgan

2:29pm: Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he has no interest in Morgan (Twitter link). The Brewers will rely on their in-house outfielders.

1:15pm: Rosenthal hears that the Brewers passed on Morgan (Twitter link). They'll go with Brandon Boggs and Jeremy Reed as extra outfielders.

11:17am: The Brewers are one of the teams looking at Nyjer Morgan, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Milwaukee just traded Chris Dickerson away and could have interest in restoring outfield depth.

Scouts covering the Nationals told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that Morgan is very much available. However, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported two weeks ago that the Nationals weren't considering releasing the outfielder.

Beyond The Boxscore suggested the Marlins would be a fit for Morgan, whose on and off-field antics include memorable run-ins with Chris Volstad and the Marlins' fans.