When Logan Morrison signed a minor league deal with the Brewers this offseason, he knew his chances of making the team were slim.
In 2017, Logan Morrison hit 38 home runs for the Tampa Bay Rays as their starting first baseman. In the two seasons since, injuries have derailed Morrison’s career and he’s been relegated to Triple-A and signing minor league deals and hopes to resurrect his career with the Brewers.
Also, in 2017, the Brewers took unheralded Jesus Aguilar off waivers and he raked his way through spring training to an Opening Day roster spot. In 2018, Ji-Man Choi was an unheralded minor league signing who played extremely well in spring training and earned an Opening Day spot as well. Both were first basemen, and Morrison is hoping to be the third surprise first baseman to make the roster in the last four years.
If you look at Morrison’s numbers so far this spring, it looks like he could have a good chance.
Morrison By The Numbers
In 11 games, Morrison is hitting .333 (9-for-27) with three home runs, seven RBIs, three walks, and eight strikeouts. His 27 at-bats is tied for most on the team this spring with Ben Gamel and Ronny Rodriguez, who conveniently are also battling for that 26th roster spot. Both Gamel and Rodriguez are batting below .200 with OPS numbers below .550. 27 at-bats is a very small sample size, but Opening Day is coming up quickly.
Here is where things get tricky for Morrison. Morrison is strictly a first baseman, with some small experience in left and right field, but no major league experience at third base. The Brewers won’t look for Morrison to play much outfield if he makes the roster, and the first base group has Justin Smoak and Ryan Braun as the planned starters.
Even with an extra roster spot, carrying three players who will play mostly at first base is a tough sell. Morrison probably wouldn’t get much time in the field and would be the first bat off the bench in a pinch hit situation most likely.
But if Morrison makes the roster, that means in all likelihood that Ben Gamel would not, given the contract status of the rest of the position group. Gamel can be optioned down, while every other projected bench player is out of options. However, that leaves the major league outfield depth very thin. It would leave a combination of Braun and Brock Holt as the backup outfielders, and Braun is going to need his regular rest as well. Holt is a valuable utility player who can play all over the field, but is that enough?
Gamel is the backup center fielder, and if Cain needs a day off or, God forbid, get hurt, the Brewers need him out there. Holt only has 12 games of experience in CF and Avisail Garcia could fill in there in a pinch, but it wouldn’t be ideal. Given the state of the outfield, the Brewers kind of need Ben Gamel on the roster.
Also, if Morrison makes the team in favor of Gamel, then the entire Brewers bench will be out of minor league options and the team will lack flexibility to change that group as needed.
With first base already having two options that will earn a combined $22 million this year, and having to force out the primary backup outfielder to take the final roster spot, the roster math works against Logan Morrison making this team.
Morrison has stated previously that he has no intention of going to Triple-A San Antonio to start the season, and will opt out of his deal, become a free agent, and sign elsewhere if he doesn’t make the Brewers Opening Day roster. Perhaps that’s for the best.
He’s fun to watch, but no matter how well he plays this spring, keeping him for the Opening Day roster and throughout the 2020 season is extremely difficult to see. They kept Ji-Man Choi in 2018, but sent him down afterwards and Choi was willing to work in Triple-A. Morrison is not, and unless an injury changes the picture before Opening Day, it looks like Morrison will hit free agency.
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No decision has been made yet on Morrison and one doesn’t have to be made until closer to the season. Once it’s decision time, based on the roster math, expect Morrison to opt out and become a free agent.