Anyone remember Mitch Moreland?
It seems like front offices don’t. Or, at least, I haven’t heard his name mentioned once so far this offseason. In fact, yesterday on MLB Network Radio they had an in-depth discussion on free agent first basemen and where they might end up. Moreland’s name was not mentioned once.
The problem for Moreland is he is in a position with a gaggle of much better first basemen on the free agent market, a glut of carbon copies, and a guy like Jose Abreu being actively shopped by the White Sox.
The available free agent first base talent is long:
The top two are Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana.
Two notches below are Yonder Alonso and Logan Morrison (based on last year).
Then, about four notches under that is a collection of pretty much the same player: Pedro Alverez, Lucas Duda, Adam Lind, Michael Morse, Mike Napoli, Mark Reynolds, Chris Carter, Danny Valencia and Mitch Moreland.
So, if you are in need of a first baseman, and you don’t get the three elite ones in Abreu, Hosmer or Santana, and you then somehow miss out on Alonso or Morrison, you are pretty much screwed anyway. But at least you have your pick of the litter. That they are all runts of the litter is unfortunate for you.
The rest of the available first basemen are interchangeable drill bits. Nine players are going to be fighting for at best the sixth best available slot. The opportunities will be as slim as the talent to fill them. They will be at the mercy of club-friendly deals, if they get deals at all.
It’s going to be a bleak off-season for many of them.
Moreland started out 2017 on a doubles tear, leading the league in the early going. But his season ended up pretty much perfectly on line with what he has always done. He averages twenty-three home runs, he got twenty-two. He averages seventy-six RBIs, he got seventy-nine. He averages batting .252, he hit .246. His average OPS is .756, last season it was .769. That little bump was due to that slight uptick in doubles he piled up early. He hit thirty-four compared to his normal twenty-eight.
And among first basemen with enough at-bats to qualify, he was twentieth in OPS out of twenty-three.
All if which is a long way to say that, don’t be surprised if Moreland ends up back with the Rangers. He will be cheap, which Daniels loves. The organization knows him, which Daniels has shown a propensity for (see Napoli). And he is a more productive bat off the bench than fellow lefties Drew Robinson or unproven Ronald Guzman, or even righty Ryan Rua. And he offers some great defense off the bench. Plus, with Adrian Beltre being so injury prone, if Gallo is called to play third for any extended amount of time, at least they would have a great glove to replace him at first.
Seems like a perfect Daniels move.
Son of a Mitch, this actually could happen.