Just in case there was any doubt that Nyjer Morgan’s tenure in Milwaukee was coming to an end, the Brewers announced today that they have outrighted the outspoken outfielder to Triple-A Nashville. The moves clears him from the 40-man roster and sets the stage for him to become a free agent.
After playing a key part in the Brewers’ NL Central title in 2011, Morgan batted just .239/.302/.308 with three home runs, 16 RBI, 12 stolen bases and a .610 OPS in 122 games this season. The 32-year-old earned $2.35 million in 2012 and is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter, so he was already an obvious non-tender candidate. According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said today that the club has no intention to attempt to work out a new deal with Morgan.
In other Brewers news, Jose Veras elected to become a free agent today after refusing an assignment to Triple-A Nashville. The 32-year-old right-hander was acquired from the Pirates last December for Casey McGehee and posted a 3.63 ERA and 79/40 K/BB ratio over 67 innings this season.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.