Marlins Fire Sale: Solution to Yankees RF Vacancy?

We learned today that Torii Hunter will be playing for the Tigers in 2013, and it didn’t ever seem like the Yankees really had a chance, anyway. Nick Swisher has garnered interest from a multitude of teams, and is sure to be gone. Josh Hamilton is out of the question given the 2014 budget, and is probably too big of a risk regardless. As the days pass, Ichiro seems like the most likely band-aid for right field.

Now, however, with the Marlins epic blockbuster deal with the Blue Jays, perhaps the Yankees can fight for the scraps. Pertaining to the right field opening, Logan Morrison seems like the best option, and he isn’t exactly “scrap” per sé. He’s reportedly available, so he could be a realistic option for the Yankees. Let’s address some of the pros and cons that would come with a trade for LoMo.

First, the positives. He’s young, turning 25 this past August, and could be a long-term solution in right field should he develop as anticipated when he was top 20 prospect in all of baseball. Additionally coming with youth is control, which the Yankees would have over him through 2016. This also means he’s a cheap option, not hitting arbitration until after 2013.

Morrison’s lefty bat could play perfectly in the Yankee Stadium short porch. Don’t let his .308 wOBA and 91 wRC+ last season fool you: he played in a pitcher’s park and was markedly better away from Miami. In fact, in terms of power, his home ISO was .120 while road ISO was .225. Overall, he had a 120 wRC+ on the road, compared to a paltry 65 at home.

Moreover, Morrison takes his fare share of walks. Although it was down in 2012, his career walk rate is 11%. Also of note: he cut down on strike outs 2011 into 2012.

Onto the cons, where some of the following negatives aren’t pretty. Namely, Morrison has struggled with knee problems as of late, having surgery on his patellar tendon this past September after injuring the knee in July. He had the same surgery in December of 2011. These knee issues may have contributed to his down 2012.

Next, he’s poor defensively. He’s been below average in left field throughout his short career according to UZR and DRS. Most notably, in 119 games in left field in 2011, he was -23 DRS, which is equivalent to two losses. Morrison has never played right field in his career (only left field and first base), but I can’t imagine it being a huge change.

Lastly, he has drawn some ire off the field for his Twitter account. Personally, I’m not too concerned with what goes on with a player off the field, provided he’s not doing anything immoral. But if it in some way is a distraction for the team or affects performance, which truly is unquantifiable, it could be a concern.

Morrison would undoubtedly be an upgrade over Ichiro, but will in all likelihood be outperformed by Nick Swisher in 2013. He certainly has the potential to be a good long-term solution in the outfield, as long as his knee doesn’t act up. As for the cost? I don’t think it would require any of the top prospects (think Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez) considering his knee issues. In fact, he could turn out to be a good buy-low option for Brian Cashman. If his medicals are acceptable, and the cost isn’t prohibitive, Morrison may very well the ideal replacement for Swisher.

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