The Brewers have acquired Nyjer Morgan from the Nationals for minor leaguer Cutter Dykstra, according to William Ladson of MLB.com. Just days ago, Doug Melvin moved reserve outfielder Chris Dickerson to the Yankees for Sergio Mitre, but had downplayed his team’s interest in Morgan in the time since –even going as far as to say his team had “no interest” and he’d rely instead on the outfielders in camp. It’s up for debate whether Melvin was being coy to conceal his next move or if the variables around a potential deal changed.
In Morgan, the Brewers receive an outfielder with the holy trinity of skills: speed, defense, and a boisterous personality. Rickey he’s not, but Morgan is a good defender capable of stealing a base. The bad news for Tony Plush’s alter-ego is that Morgan’s offensive game away from the paths is lacking. Morgan’s walk rate is consistently around six or seven percent and he strikes out more than someone who hits for extra bases in five percent of his plate appearances (15 percent for his career).
Morgan’s performance dictates whether folks view his eccentric personality as a delightful tension breaker or an immature nuisance. A career-worst offensive output (.235 TAv, previous low was .255) combined with Morgan’s odd pattern of behavior down the stretch (including this memorable scene) meant he was on the way out regardless, but the Nationals then added Rick Ankiel and Jayson Werth to further cement his exit.
The Brewers now have to decide which of their reserve outfielders will play right field until Corey Hart returns from a strained oblique. For now, Mark Kotsay, Brandon Boggs, and Morgan will battle it out for playing time, but don’t be surprised if Morgan challenges Carlos Gomez for the starting job in center before too long. PECOTA is none too thrilled about the competition, pegging Morgan’s TAv at .241 and Gomez’s at .228 –the league-average center fielder had a .272 TAv in 2010. It’s not pretty, but an upgrade is an upgrade.
Meanwhile, Dykstra hit the ball well in 2010, recovering from a horrid time in 2009. The .312 batting average and .416 on-base percentage are fancy, but his pop leaves something to be desired and his defensive position –currently “third base”— is a long-term question mark. Nonetheless, Kevin Goldstein did tab Dykstra as the Brewers’ 16th best prospect; however, the listing came after the Brewers’ gutted their system through various offseason trades, thus finishing last in the overall system rankings.