Nov
15

Scouting The Trade Market: Logan Morrison

By

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

Two days ago the Marlins and Blue Jays pulled off one of the biggest trades we’ve seen in years, at least in the terms of the number of players involved. A dozen players will change teams once this thing is complete, and five of them are veteran guys going from Miami to Toronto. The Marlins certainly acquired some really good young players, but the move was primarily a salary dump on their part.

Unsurprisingly, reports surfaced yesterday that both right-hander Ricky Nolasco and first baseman/outfielder Logan Morrison are on the trade block as well. The Yankees supposedly have interest in Nolasco, but let’s put him aside and focus on Morrison. The 25-year-old left-handed hitter is just three years removed from being one of baseball’s very prospects thanks mostly to his offensive prowess. Baseball America twice ranked him as one of the game’s 20 best prospects (#18 in 2009 and #20 in 2010), placing him just behind Giancarlo Stanton in both instances. Obviously he hasn’t taken off like his teammate, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have something to offer. Let’s see if there’s a fit for the Yankees.

The Pros

  • A career .259/.339/.442 (112 wRC+) hitter, Morrison hit .259/.351/.460 (121 wRC+) in 815 plate appearances from 2010-2011. Although he’s done most of his career damage against righties (.205 ISO and 113 wRC+), he hangs in well against lefties as well (.157 ISO and 109 wRC+).
  • Morrison’s strength offensively is his ability to control the strike zone. He drew a ton of walks in the minors (12.4 BB%) and that’s held true in the show (11.0 BB%), plus his strikeout rate (18.2 K%) is basically league average (15.2 K% in the minors). His 82.6% contract rate in the big leagues (career-high 84.1% in 2012) is better than the league average as well.
  • Baseball America said Morrison’s “makeup and leadership skills are outstanding” prior to the 2010 season, the last time he qualified as a prospect. I also recommend reading this Amy Nelson piece on Morrison’s upbringing, which explains how father Tom — a military man who recently passed away due to cancer — preached pride and discipline.
  • Morrison is still in his pre-arbitration years and won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. He’ll earn something close to the league minimum in 2013 before being arbitration-eligible for the first time next winter.

The Cons

  • As you probably know, Morrison didn’t hit at all this year: .230/.308/.399 (91 wRC+) in 334 plate appearances. His BABIP has been trending downward while his fly ball rate has been climbing upward since debuting in 2010, so it’s not entirely a fluke. More fly balls equals fewer base hits. There’s a chance he started to sell out for power, and in fact you can kinda see his progression from an all-fields hitter to a pull-happy guy in his spray charts (2010, 2011, 2012).
  • Morrison is no stranger to the disabled list. He had surgery to repair the patellar tendon in his right knee both this September and last December, so this is a repeat thing now. He also missed time with a left foot injury in 2010 and broke his thumb while in the minors back in 2009.
  • Thanks in part to the knee problems, Morrison is a well-below-average baserunner. He’s attempted just five stolen bases as a big leaguer (caught twice) and he’s taken the extra base just 38% of the time. That’s below-average. Nothing in his track record suggests more value on the bases is coming even if his knee is fine going forward, it’s just not his game.
  • He’s been a first baseman his entire life and when the Marlins stuck him in left field in deference to Gaby Sanchez following his call-up, it was a disaster. Morrison’s defensive stats in the outfield (-25.7 UZR, -36 DRS, and -27 Total Zone) are a nightmare, though sample size warnings do apply (2,044.2 innings). He’s considered a solid if not above-average defender at first.

Any team that looks into acquiring Morrison has to first thoroughly check out his medicals, then ask themselves if they think he’s fixable offensively. Has he turned himself into Mark Teixeira in the sense that he’s now unable to go the other way and can only pull the ball? The Yankees don’t have a good track record of turning pull-happy guys into all-fields hitters, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Their guys do the opposite. Maybe that will make Morrison more appealing to them, who knows. We also have to remember that batted ball data isn’t very reliable, so don’t take the increase in fly balls to heart.

The left-handed power (which would be heightened by Yankee Stadium, in theory) and patience is appealing, especially since he’s more than a platoon bat. The problem is that Morrison wouldn’t have a position with the Yankees unless they are willing to tolerate terrible defense in a corner outfield spot. They did it with Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu in recent years and Raul Ibanez just this past year, so who knows. I suppose he could serve as the regular DH, backup first baseman, and part-time outfielder (whenever a ground ball pitcher is on the mound?). That might work. It’s probably best to think of him as an Ibanez replacement rather than a Nick Swisher replacement.

Morrison is a buy-low candidate in the Swisher mold, which is kinda funny since both guys had their worst full season as a big leaguer in their only season under Ozzie Guillen. Morrison’s red flags are more serious than Swisher’s were back in 2008 considering the knee problems, however. I think it’s safe to assume the Marlins are seeking prospects in return, and I guess there’s a chance they’d look to package him with Nolasco a la Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. If the Yankees could swing a deal involving two or three prospects — preferably not from the Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Gary Sanchez trio — Morrison might be their best chance of landing a young impact bat while his value is down.

Categories : Hot Stove League

45 Comments»

  1. Murderers' Row Boat says:

    Buying low on Morrison would be nice, but seeing where the AAA Marlins stand on Stanton would be the better option. The Yankees can make up for not trading for Cabera in 2007.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      Yeah, speaking with the Marlins on Nolasco could open the door to take on others. We’d all prefer Stanton (as would 28 other teams, or at least 27, never really sure about the Astros), but Morrison could be an option.

      Start the talks, Cash, and see if you can get something good!

  2. Frank says:

    I’d rather stick with Dickerson.

    • I completely agree. LoMo is going to be another low average pull happy guy who could probably hit 20+ HRs at the Stadium, but would only really be a small upgrade as a DH. Plus who really wants Nolasco?

  3. Samuel says:

    Stay away from Morrison. He is a younger version of Nick Johnson, all the potential but none of the playing time because of injuries.

    One dimensional on defense and while he does walk a lot, he takes way too many hittable pitches. Yankee farmhand Greg Bird, will end up being a better major league player than Morrison.

    Pass.

    It would be nice to get Stanton, but that deal likely starts with Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams and Tyler Austin.

    Pass on that, too.

    • Jersey Joe says:

      You say it like Nick Johnson was as durable as DiMaggio.

      If you stick him in right field or DH him some days, his defensive struggles are eliminated.

      LoMo makes sense. If it’s Melky Mesa and low level prospect, it will be fine with me.

      • Samuel says:

        No, I didn’t infer at all that Morrison was durable. He is the exact opposite. And if you think you are getting him for Mesa and a C level prospect, you’re nuts.

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      “It would be nice to get Stanton, but that deal likely starts with Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams and Tyler Austin.”

      Three lotto tickets for a 23-year-old superstar? Done.

      • kevin w. says:

        Yeah seriously. None of those three players will ever be as good as Stanton, let alone probably all three of them. I’d sign up for them three and two pitchers.

        • Samuel says:

          And I thank god you are not running the Yankees.

          Do you people realize that you can’t build this team thru other teams players? That you need to use these kids to keep the team younger, more cost controlled and better?

          Have any of you even seen these kids play?

          To trade all these three position players, who I have seen and believe will start in the majors at above average or All-Star caliber, and two pitchers.

          You sir, must be Omar Minaya.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Lottery tickers is an awful analogy for prospects and leads to this sort of oversimplification. I’m not saying it’s a definite no-go, but it’s worth more analysis than that.

    • Mr. Sparkle says:

      When did we lower the bar to say a career best of 54 walks in 525 plate appearances is walking “a lot?”

  4. Andy Pettitte's Fibula says:

    If they could get him without including any of their top 5 prospects I’d do it. Over 1000 ABs with a sub .800 OPS for a guy who offers little in the field and nothing on the bases with a bad knee, it’s certainly a gamble though.

  5. Phil says:

    Will take Nolasco and his $11.5M in salary but include Stanton. Of course some prospects will have to go (anybody but Sanchez, Heathcoat and Mason williams)

  6. Tom H says:

    The one piece here, it was a long time ago but Paul O’neill fits perfectly into that “turning a pull guy into an all-field guy”

  7. Jersey Joe says:

    I think he gives that swagger to the Yankees that Swisher had. We need that outlandish attitude on this team that we’re missing.

  8. jjyank says:

    I’d be cool with Morrison. Price has to be right, of course.

  9. MikeD says:

    No thanks. Another low average hitter who strikes out a lot, don’t we have enough of those already?

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      plus his strikeout rate (18.2 K%) is basically league average (15.2 K% in the minors).

      Doesn’t strike out a lot. He’s shown potential to be a higher average hitter than what he showed last year. Had a poor year under Ozzie Guillen. I’m not saying all of these things will change if he comes to the Yankees, but then again, they might revervt back to his historical averages. At a low cost, he might be worth the risk.

      • Mr. Sparkle says:

        If he gets over 500 ABs, he’s going to strike out over 100 times. In my book, that equates to “he strikes out a lot.”

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Let’s ignore everything else about offensive production and focus only on Ks!!!! Getting on base? Hitting for power? Scoring runs? Who needs them? Just don’t k!!!!!!

        • Preston says:

          In 1920 you’d be right. Time to update your thinking. Striking out 100 times in a season is fine, approaching 200 times is where it starts to be a problem.

  10. Gonzo says:

    I’m a pass. I think he needs to go to a team that will play him at 1b at least semi-regularly.

  11. LarryM., Fl. says:

    The cons has me suggesting a no go. We have enough good quality guys on the team who can’t hit for ave., situation or location.

  12. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    Definitely in on LoMo, as in:

    Hey, it’s Cashman. Listen, I we’re definitely in on Logan Morrison. And, I mean, coincidentally, somebody put this post-in on the folder, says, something…”ask…about…Nolesco. Nolasco and…Mike, er, Giancarlo Stanton? So talk to me.”

  13. Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM) says:

    Pass, he sounds like a poor mans Nick Swisher, only he gets hurt more and isn’t a switch hitter.

  14. mitch says:

    I’d take a chance on morrison for a mid-level prospect, but no way would i take on nolasco as well. If he’s in the deal, then mike stanton needs to be involved as well.

  15. PridePowerPinstripes87 says:

    If we’re looking at a poor defensive RF’er I would rather talk to the Nats about Morse. If they really are looking at signing bourne and laroche they’ll look to move Morse, so theyre might be a fit there. Idk what the package would be though.

    • Jersey Joe says:

      I mentioned a 3 way trade that would send maybe Nunez and Warren to Twins, Span to Nationals, and Morse to NYY. I guess with a potential Bourn signing this may not happen just something to think about.

      • mitch says:

        in this hypothetical situation, i’d rather just trade nunez and warren for span and leave out the middle man

        • PridePowerPinstripes87 says:

          Wouldnt that leave NYY with 3 lefty CFs in the outfield though? Morse would add some righty pop who can hit for some avg, though it seems Span’s splits vs lefties aren’t bad. Morse is definitely worse than span on D, but i think another speedy lefty outfielder would be redundant.

  16. anonymous crack smoker says:

    Can someone tell tom verducci that THE ANGELS WON MORE GAMES THAN THE TIGERS

  17. jay destro says:

    “The Yankees can make up for not trading for Cabera in 2007.”

    LMAO

  18. Rey22 says:

    He’ll end up at 1B for the Rays.

  19. Drew says:

    Did anyone watch the Showtime TV with the Marlins? Morrison kinda seemed like a dick.

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