After the trade of Chris Dickerson, it became pretty apparent the Brewers were in a pretty desperate state for an outfielder. With just Carlos Gomez as an option in center field, the Brewers quickly acted. On Sunday, they nabbed Nyjer Morgan from the Washington Nationals in exchange for Cutter Dykstra and cash.
It was pretty obvious that Morgan and the Nats wanted a split. This week, Morgan was quoted as saying, "Maybe I'm not a fit here anymore. It's time to move on." His personal battle with Jim Riggleman became news pretty much everyday. It got to the point where Morgan simply wasn't going to be a part of the plans in Washington.
Morgan, 30, is always a player I have seemed to like. He's a very good defense centerfielder and shows serviceable patience at the plate. While his career walk rate of just over 7% isn't exactly amazing, when you're backing up Carlos Gomez (career BB% of 5.1%), it looks decent. Plus, he's got a pretty nasty left hook.
Morgan does have some problems with his game. Most notably, Morgan seems to be prone to making outs on the bases. Last season, he had just a 67% success rate while stealing bases, getting caught 17 times. He is coming off a very disappointing 2010 where he hit just .253/.319/.314 in 509 at bats for Washington. Also, Nyjer isn't exactly what you would consider a power hitter. His isolated power (ISO) numbers over the past couple of seasons have been really bad (.081, .081, .061). That rarely translates into a very good slugging percentage, of which Morgan's career high is just .430, which was only in 118 AB's.
In return for Morgan, the Nationals received pretty decent compensation for someone they were likely going to release. Cutter Dykstra isn't exactly a top prospect, but did show some promise last season in A-ball. In 353 at bats last season, Dykstra posted a rather impressive .312/.416/.411 line. I wouldn't look too much into that seeing as that was the first impressive season for the 21-year old third baseman.
Take this move for what it is: insurance. The Brewers had absolutely zero options if Carlos Gomez struggled out of the gate. In getting Morgan, the Brewers now have that insurance. I'd be very surprised if Gomez was given a long leash considering a capable backup is waiting behind him. Morgan is just two years removed from a very impressive season where he posted a 4.9 WAR. Is that a realistic goal for Morgan? No, but it's not too unlikely he will outproduce Carlos Gomez this season.