Indians Sign Nyjer Morgan


Sept 3, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan (2) gestures before a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Indians and Nyjer Morgan Agree to Minor League Pact

For those of you complaining that the Indians aren’t doing anything this offseason, well you finally got what you asked for. After weeks of silence, the Indians finally made another move. For those of you waiting patiently for the Indians to do something, well… their latest move probably has you a bit perplexed and maybe even flummoxed.

Yesterday evening, the Cleveland Indians came to agreement with free agent outfielder, Nyjer Morgan. Yes, the same Nyjer Morgan who made a name for himself more for running his mouth and his T-Plush alter ego than for anything he ever did on the field. The deal is a non-guaranteed minor league contract that also includes an invitation to spring training with the big league club. If Morgan were to break camp with the Tribe and meet incentives, he could stand to make in excess of $1-million.

You may now proceed to wipe the confused looks off of your faces.

Morgan’s signing looks to be nothing more than a move to acquire vertical depth. At the age of 33-years-old and having spent all of 2013 playing professionally in Japan, not much should realistically be expected out of Morgan. Thins become even less optimistic when you consider how poorly Morgan performed during his most recent big league season back in 2012. That year with the Brewers, Morgan put together a slash line of .239/.302/.308.

June 3, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan (2) during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

That’s not to say things have been all bad. Morgan did put together spectacular seasons in 2009 and 2011. In both of those years, Morgan posted OPS+ marks of 121 and 111 respectively. During the Brewers memorable postseason run in 2011, Morgan was a vital member of the team’s success hitting out of the lead-off spot.

However, age appears to have caught up with Nyjer Morgan. Everyone likes to devalue the signing of Michael Bourn because his primary skill does not age well. That skill, of course, is speed. Morgan’s career is like an early warning for what Bourn could become. A once superb defensive center fielder and base stealer who saw his performance rapidly decline seemingly out of nowhere. For Morgan it got so bad that he found himself out of Major League Baseball in 2013.

Now the question is – How does Nyjer Morgan fit into the grand scheme of things for the Indians? As already mentioned, this looks like a move for depth. Right now, it seems unlikely that Morgan would be able to break camp with the Indians. The outfield already appears set with Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley, Ryan Raburn, and the recently acquired David Murphy. There just isn’t any room left for a player of Morgan’s skill set. The best he could probably hope for is an injury to one of those aforementioned players that give him an opportunity, or the competition for the final roster spot plays out like a horror movie with Morgan being the best of the bunch.

Even still, it is hard to see the Indians committing a spot at the end of their bench to a player that has regularly made highlights more for what he says rather than what he does on the field. Well, unless you count inciting a bench clearing brawl.

The bottom line is that while this move might make a few headlines given Morgan’s ability to create headlines, this move is really inconsequential. With a jam-packed outfield, there is little reason to expect Nyjer Morgan on the opening day roster. Under most normal circumstances, a minor league deal such as this would fall into the “hoping to catch lightning in a bottle” category, but the Indians are in no need of an additional outfielder. File this one away as inconsequential.