Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Washington Nationals have traded outfielder Nyjer Morgan to the Milwaukee Brewers for infield prospect Cutter Dykstra and cash considerations.
“The news comes two days after Morgan said he didn’t fit in with the Nationals, comments that disappointed manager Jim Riggleman.
Morgan, who was on the trading block for at least a week, is aware the Nationals plan to use Rick Ankiel — who will platoon with Jerry Hairston Jr. this season — as their Opening Day center fielder.”
Morgan, 30, was the Nationals starting centerfielder last season but quickly fell out of favor with the club after a poor season at the plate, and an even worse season behaviorally. After batting .351/.396/.435 in a 49 game stint with Washington in 2009, Morgan managed to hit just .253/.319/.633 as the Nats everyday centerfielder in 2010.
Despite much speculation that he would be traded during the offseason, the Nationals gave Morgan a chance to compete for the starting centerfield job this spring with the hopes he might be able to regain the flash of brilliance the team saw in 09. Unfortunately, Morgan struggled in Florida, batting just .241/.328/.315 in 54 at bats, and newcomer Rick Ankiel supplanted the speedster in centerfield.
In return, the Nats have landed the son of former Mets fan favorite Lenny Dykstra. Cutter, like his father, is a short scrapper with decent speed. The Brewers drafted him with high hopes in the second round in 2008 out of high school, however his prospect status quickly dropped after two lackluster seasons in Rookie Ball.
Last season, though, Dykstra appeared to break out of his shell. In 100 games in Single-A, Cutter hit .312/.416/.411 with 27 stolen bases. While there isn’t much pop in his bat, it seems that he has much better patience than most of the current Nationals young infielders, as he boasts a .374 career minor league on base percentage. Dykstra may be a late bloomer, explaining why it has taken him so long to develop at the lower levels of the minors. His father, however, was in the majors by age 22 with the Mets, which may indicate he doesn’t have the same talent or grit his old man had.
Either way, the Nationals will now move forward in 2011 without Nyjer Morgan, a player who seemed so integral at the start of 2010. For Morgan, it was simply a case of small sample size, which fans and management latched on to with false hope. It’s not his fault he wasn’t the player we hoped he would be. He simply is a speedster outfielder with poor plate patience and streaky hitting. He’ll be a good fit as a fourth outfielder in Milwaukee.