Nyjer Morgan Rumors
In his latest column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues that it's unlikely the Diamondbacks make a huge splash before the trade deadline. With interim GM Jerry DiPoto not expected to hold the position past this season, Rosenthal is skeptical that the D'Backs would give him the reins to blow up the roster. Although Arizona could trade potential free agents like Adam LaRoche, Chad Qualls, and Aaron Heilman, Rosenthal thinks the team probably won't move Dan Haren, Kelly Johnson, or Stephen Drew. Here are a few other notes from the piece:
- According to a rival club offical, the Nationals were asking the White Sox for either Gordon Beckham or Carlos Quentin in exchange for Adam Dunn.
- If the Blue Jays don't receive satisfactory offers for their free-agents-to-be, the club may take the same approach they did last year, when the departures of Marco Scutaro and Rod Barajas earned them draft picks. Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and John Buck all project to be Type As or Bs, and could potentially net the Jays multiple 2011 compensation picks.
- When teams call the Jays to talk trades, Toronto's young starting rotation is the most frequent topic of conversation.
- Some members of the Nationals organization wouldn't mind trading Nyjer Morgan to open up center field for Roger Bernadina.
- Within seven to ten days, the Marlins should make a decision on whether or not to be sellers.
- If Buck Showalter lands the Baltimore managerial job, former Orioles such as Bill Ripken and B.J. Surhoff would be candidates to join his staff.
On June 30th, 2009, the Pirates traded reliever Sean Burnett and outfielder Nyjer Morgan to the Nationals for reliever Joel Hanrahan and outfielder Lastings Milledge. With exactly one year in the books, which side is ahead?
Hanrahan has tossed 63 innings for the Pirates with a 3.00 ERA, 11.9 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, and 0.43 HR/9. He's totaled 1.0 WAR for the Pirates. His fastball velocity has increased since the trade, to the point where he's averaging 95.4 mph this year. Hanrahan will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, and he's under team control through 2013. He's part of a strong late-game relief trio in Pittsburgh, along with Evan Meek and Octavio Dotel.
Milledge is hitting .281/.339/.384 in 490 plate appearances for the Pirates. He's played 928 innings in left field, but has moved to right field since Jose Tabata's promotion. He's totaled 1.2 WAR for the Pirates. Like Hanrahan, Milledge is arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2011 and under control through 2013.
For the Nationals, lefty reliever Sean Burnett has a 2.96 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, and 0.70 HR/9 in 51.6 innings. He's totaled 0.4 WAR for the Nats. That value came entirely from 2010, as he's increased his K/9 to 8.1. He's earning $775K this year after losing an arbitration hearing in February. Burnett is under team control through 2012.
Morgan is hitting .291/.345/.368 in 530 plate appearances with 41 stolen bases in 59 attempts for the Nationals since the trade. His 2.7 WAR comes entirely from 2009, as he's actually had negative value in 2010. Morgan's '09 season ended in late August with a broken wrist. It's been a rough 2010 season offensively, and Morgan leads the league with 11 times caught stealing. Morgan has tallied 1,000 innings in center field in his time with Washington. After the season it appears that he'll miss the Super Two cutoff by a few days, meaning he will not be arbitration-eligible until after the 2011 season. Morgan is under team control through 2014.
I'd rather have Hanrahan than Burnett at this point, and the Pirates' reliever is under team control for an extra season. Morgan's last two months have been discouraging, but he might be better than Milledge defensively and is under control for an extra year. While the Nationals are ahead 0.9 in WAR, this challenge trade remains something of a toss-up a year later.
Nationals fans are accustomed to seeing their team at the bottom of the NL East standings, but a lot has changed since last summer. A year ago, the Nationals were 21-46, their manager was on the hot seat and they had yet to sign Stephen Strasburg. Now, they're still in last place, but the mood is different in D.C. and the 31-36 Nationals aren't about to spoil it by trading their most proven outfielders.
Josh Willingham and Nyjer Morgan do not appear to be available, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Nationals have turned down multiple chances to deal Willingham in the last 15 months and have no intention of moving him, Morosi reports.
The Giants are looking for outfield help, but it doesn't appear that the Nationals will be willing to deal. Morosi mentions one intriguing outfielder clubs could target: Mitch Maier (Twitter link). The 27-year-old has played center field for the Royals and has a .265/.349/.373 line. Those numbers suggest Maier could be useful, though he'd likely be a depth option for a contender.
More links for the afternoon...
- MLB president Bob DuPuy confirmed to MLB.com's Barry Bloom that the Cubs should soon be sold to Tom Ricketts for about $900MM.
- Royals third-rounder Wil Myers told Matt Forman of Baseball America that it felt a little weird to face live pitching after a few months off. He still managed to hit a homer in his ffith pro at bat.
- You don't hear many Cardinals fans complaining about Matt Holliday, but how about Brett Wallace, the centerpiece of the trade that sent Holliday to St. Louis? As Baseball America shows with its latest Prospect Hot Sheet, Wallace homered five times this week.
- Chico Harlan of the Washington Post compares Nyjer Morgan to a number of leadoff hitters throughout history and shows that Morgan looks like a nice acquisition.
- The Nats introduced Stephen Strasburg to the fans at Nationals Park this afternoon, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
A few links for the morning...
- Today's chat starts at 2pm CST.
- Brandon Webb says he'll pitch next year and he hopes it's with the D'Backs, according to Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic. The team has the option of paying Webb $8.5MM or buying him out for $2MM.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck says the Tigers, who had interest in Junichi Tazawa last Winter, now have to face the righty as he makes his first MLB start.
- How about this stat, from Tracee Hamilton of the Washington Post: The Nats were 21st in the majors in runs before Nyjer Morgan's arrival. Since trading for him, they're third.
- MLB.com's Chris Haft wonders if the Giants may be about to release Rich Aurilia.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America reports that the Red Sox agreed to sign 10th rounder Brandon Jacobs for $750k, which exceeds the recommended bonus by about $600k.
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle hears that the A's have budgeted first round money for fourth rounder Max Stassi. However, there appears to be a 50% chance he accepts a scholarship at UCLA instead of going pro.
Chico Harlan of the Washington Post has some interesting thoughts in the wake of yesterday's deal between the Nationals and Pirates. He argues that this trade was an indication of GM Mike Rizzo's team-building strategy, "which favors reliability over high-yield potential, a counter to predecessor Jim Bowden."
Harlan continues, "the trade, too, commences Washington's attempt to restock a malformed roster on which few outfielders can catch and few relievers can hold leads."
Meanwhile, Dave Cameron at Fangraphs argues that Nyjer Morgan might be more valuable than most give him credit for.
Morgan and Sean Burnett will both plug holes for the Nationals, but is this kind of deal a ticket to respectability for Washington? Is reliability a good return for the upside of Lastings Milledge? Pick a side!
1:40pm: Kovacevic says the teams have agreed in principle to exchange Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett.
1:35pm: The deal isn't complete, but Kovacevic has an update. It would also send Sean Burnett to Washington and Joel Hanrahan to Pittsburgh.
12:05pm: The Pirates already made one deal this morning, but that's not stopping them from talking trades. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates are close to dealing Nyjer Morgan to the Nationals for Lastings Milledge. However, nothing is final yet.
We first heard of the possible swap on the weekend.
Some odds and ends around the league:
- Nyjer Morgan was caught off-guard by recent trade rumors, says Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Morgan said he was "flattered."
- Adam McCalvy of MLB.com says the Brewers are still pursuing potential deals after not matching up to acquire Mark DeRosa. Doug Davis is mentioned in the piece.
- Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer rounds up who will be buyers and who will be sellers over the next month. Nothing too surprising. He lists the Phillies as buyers, in need of pitching, and suggests they're looking at Chien-Ming Wang and "have been all over" Brad Penny.
Talks have swirled this weekend about the Nationals' pursuit of Pirates CF Nyjer Morgan, but it looks like he's not the only outfielder on the team's radar. Bill Ladson at MLB.com has updated his previous post on the discussions, and this time he throws Braves CF prospect Jordan Schafer's name into the mix as a potential target for the Nats.
Ladson says the Nationals are seeking an improvement in their outfield defense, as they have apparently concluded that Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham profile more as designated hitters and Elijah Dukes still makes too many mental errors. Schafer was sent down earlier this season to make room for Nate McLouth, but it isn't clear if the Braves would be willing to move him.
It seems like the Nats are looking for a young, cost-controlled and speedy outfielder as well as a defensively adept one. Who else comes to mind that might be attainable for the Nationals?