Sunday, January 5, 2014

Could Nyjer Morgan be a fit for the Reds?

As the cash-strapped Reds continue to look for cheap additions to next season's roster, one player they may be interested in taking a closer look at is Nyjer Morgan.

Morgan, who spent the 2013 season in Japan playing for the Yokohama DeNa BayStars, is reportedly seeking a return to Major League Baseball. And his agent said that "six to eight" clubs have already expressed an interest in signing the veteran outfielder.

"Japan was a great experience for Nyjer and he would still enjoy playing there, but he's had a great deal of success in the States and would love to come back here as well,'' Morgan's agent Jonathan Maurer said. "We've had interest from teams who see him as a guy who could come in and spell a starter or possibly earn more playing time.''

This desired scenario for Morgan could possibly make the enigmatic 33-year-old a nice fit in Cincinnati. The Reds seem set on giving Billy Hamilton the starting job in center field next year, but are also open to adding some insurance, just in case the young speedster struggles. This is where Morgan could step in.

Morgan batted .294 with 11 home runs in 108 games played with Yokohama in 2013. Before then, he split time between the Pirates, Nationals, and Brewers over six big league seasons, and tallied a .280/.341/.364 slash with 117 steals. Of course, it's safe to say that increasing age has caused Morgan to lose a step or two in recent years, but he continues to boast above average speed and defensive range as a player.

Bottom line: if the Reds could somehow coax the left-handed hitting and throwing Morgan to agree to a minor league contract then perhaps he would be worth taking a chance on. But if as many as eight teams are already asking about him, it seems unlikely that Morgan will sign anything less than a major league deal.

On the bright side, the Reds may already have a similar alternative to Morgan in the likes of Grady Sizemore. General manager Walt Jocketty has already confirmed that the club does have an interest in the three-time All-Star and could end up offering him a minor league deal, instead. It should be noted that the 31-year-old hasn't played in the majors since 2011, though.

For what it's worth, I think Morgan would be a safer bet in what he brings to the playing table. He's proven to be a solid on-base guy and a player who can add spark to an offense due to his high energy and quickness. However, he also brings some baggage with him, as he has a reputation for being somewhat mouthy and controversial, both of which most teams want no part of.

On the flip side, Sizemore is more of a gamble. Sure, he was an elite player from 2006-2008, but he's been unable to duplicate that success ever since. If he could manage to stay healthy and return to that All-Star caliber form, then what a steal that would be for the Reds. It would be reminiscent of the move the Reds made to acquire Ryan Ludwick before a very fruitful 2012 season. Still, Sizemore is worth the risk if all the risk entails is a small investment and a minor league contract.

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