Well this is a new one …
Joel Sherman this morning reports that the Chicago Cubs are among the teams speaking with the Marlins about the very available Logan Morrison. The 26-year-old lefty is headed to arbitration for the first time this year, and projects to make between $1.5 and $2 million. That might be too steep for the Marlins – I kid, mostly – who could extract some value from Morrison in trade before his price tag escalates.
The problem with Morrison from the Cubs’ perspective? It’s his position: can he really play left field? The advanced stats, consistently, say he’s pretty bad out there, and Wrigley Field isn’t exactly an easy outfield to adjust to. Most pundits think he’s ticketed for 1B/DH long-term, but if he can hold it together in left field, his options (and the Marlins’) will open up quite a bit.
Still, the bat gives you plenty to dream on. After a great year and a half at the outset of his career, Morrison has fallen off the last two years, posting slash lines of just .230/.308/.399 and .242/.333/.375. So, where’s the dreaming part? Well, Morrison sports a career walk rate of 11.1% against a strikeout rate of just 17.8%. His ISO is .178. Take those items together, and you’ve got a very intriguing bat, setting everything else aside. Morrison is just 26, and there is reason to believe that, with consistent play, the power could come along a little bit more (especially outside of Miami – 12 of his 17 homers the last two years came on the road).
If the Cubs believe he can handle left field, and if the price tag isn’t much more than a couple intriguing, lower-upside prospects, I’d be very interested in seeing Morrison get a crack out there for the Cubs next year. Morrison’s career OPS is about 80 points higher against righties, so you could even make him part of a platoon and see positive results.
Sherman hears that the Marlins are looking for a third baseman in the trade, which is certainly something the Cubs could accommodate. Is Christian Villanueva a fair swap? Would the Marlins want to take a chance on Mike Olt (but would the Cubs want to give him up in a deal like this?)? Do the Marlins want to see if Josh Vitters can handle third base? There are some low-pain possibilities here for the Cubs, given their impending infield depth.
Given Morrison’s rocky history in Miami, you wonder whether the price tag will be suppressed slightly, and whether the Marlins just want to move on. If so, he becomes an even more attractive target for the Cubs.
Bonus: For those who seek enjoyment outside the lines, you’re hoping the Cubs grab Morrison, who is a prolific (and sometimes controversial) tweeter.