More International Comings and Goings
Nyjer Morgan, who most recently played with the Brewers, is going to Japan. The Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars signed him to a deal worth roughly $1.66 million plus performance incentives.
Morgan looks like the kind of player who would do well in Japan’s NPB. While he hit only .239 last year, he has a career MLB batting average of .280, a career .341 on-base percentage, he runs well, and he has provided above-average major league defense in center fielder. He should also add power playing in NPB’s smaller ball parks.
What remains to be seen is how “Tony Plush” adapts to playing and living in Japan and how Japan adapts to him. You don’t hear many complaints about Morgan when he is playing well, but when he’s struggling at the plate he tends to get into trouble. He’s definitely a character and how that plays in Japan remains to be seen.
I also learned something about Morgan today that I never would have guessed, given the fact that he’s from the San Francisco Bay Area. He is an accomplished hockey player, who at age 19 played briefly for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, the highest level of amateur junior hockey. He developed an interest in the game watching the 1988 Olympics.
In other international news, the Oakland A’s are interested in shortstop Aledmis Diaz, a purportedly 23 year old Cuban defector. I say “purportedly” because MLB is reportedly investigating whether Diaz is actually only 21 or 22 years old and is claiming to be older because Cubans who are at least 23 and have three or more years of professional experience in Cuba are exempt from the capped bonus pools each team may spend on young Caribbean prospects. If Diaz is claiming that he is older than he actually is, it would be a first among baseball prospects.
At any rate, Diaz reportedly hit .315 with 12 home runs in the 90 game Cuban Serie National in 2011-2012, his last season before defecting during a trip to Holland by the Cuban National Team. Diaz began his career in the Serie National late during the 2007-2008 season, which means he would have been playing in Cuba’s top league before he turned 18 if he is, in fact, younger than he is currently claiming.