Trade Reaction: Nats Dump OF Morgan

This will be a regular series in the future, mostly in baseball.  I’ll break down any trades of interest and show you how these things really shake out.  The Nationals made a smaller trade the other day that is flying a bit under the radar.  But it’s these small moves that can add up to big improvement.

 Nyjer Morgan’s antics had become a distraction for the Nats.

On Sunday, the Nats traded troubled OF Nyjer Morgan to the Brewers for minor league IF/OF Cutter Dykstra.  While his play on the field eroded last season, Morgan also became a huge distraction.  His antics last summer, including purposely throwing a ball into the stands and excessively charging the mound, became out of line and were a bad example for the young players the Nats are trying to break in.  His play on the field was nothing special either as his OBP dropped below .320 and he was caught on a third of his steal attempts.  I was of the opinion that the Nats should simply cut him and rid themselves of the distraction.  I had no idea that the Brewers would be dumb enough to give up a high-ceiling youngster for him.

Cutter Dykstra, 21, is probably best known for being the son of former major league outfielder Lenny Dykstra, but he’s making a name for himself on the field as well.  He’s bounced around the diamond a bit, playing mostly centerfield in 2008, second base in 2009 and third base in 2010, but his bat looks to be legit.  Like his father, he’s shown good plate discipline, posting a BB:K ratio of 55:72 last year at class-A Wisconsin.  He’s also got good speed, stealing 27 bases in 35 attempts.  He hasn’t shown much pop yet, but that may come at higher levels.  Even without much power, he’s got all of the makings of a solid top of the order hitter.  The Nats got a steal here.  He’s clearly got the pedigree, as he was a second round pick in 2008 and his bloodlines can’t hurt.  He should start at High-A Potomac and could be a fast mover if his approach at the plate continues to be this solid.  The real keys for him will be developing some pop and finding a position to call home (probably not third as Zimmerman is there and he doesn’t have enough power).

Overall, this trade was a big win for the Nats.  They rid themselves of an aging, low talent distraction and pick up a young piece to add to their minor league system.  For the Brewers, it’s a somewhat puzzling move.  They had a hole in centerfield, but Morgan is really just a left-handed version of their incumbent center fielder, Carlos Gomez.  At best, the two provide a decent platoon.  At worst, Morgan is again a distraction and he hurts Milwaukee’s chances in the upcoming season.

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