Mitch Moreland at first base is OK… for now
If the Boston Red Sox were to start their season today, their lineup would look exactly the same as it did last season.
That’s because the Red Sox re-signed Mitch Moreland to a 2-year $13 million contract this week, giving themselves a first baseman for the 2018 season (and possibly beyond, depending on what they do with him).
At first glance, this was a move I did not like. The Red Sox finished dead last in home runs last season and Moreland is a big reason for that. He played a power hitting position but hit less than 25 home runs. Plus his OPS was about .750 whereas a first baseman on a first-place team should have one of about .800 (in my opinion).
Moreland had a 2.0 WAR last season (wins above replacement player), so at least he is a bargain for his production. On the other hand, Eric Hosmer may have commanded a $100 million contract and given much more production than Moreland. Plus, we have to remember: Moreland played through a broken toe last year (and struggled through it). He could have better results this time around, assuming he’s healthy and manager Alex Cora limits his action against left-handed pitching.
That could definitely end up happening because the Red Sox still want to add another bat–and they might not want to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.. They could go all in on JD Martinez in free agency and still keep their outfield intact. Martinez could DH and maybe play a handful of games in the outfield, leaving Hanley Ramirez as a bench player.
Seeing how we can’t really trust Hanley to play a full season at first base (shoulder problems), he didn’t hit like a DH last year and is still owed $22 million, at least this move bolsters the Red Sox depth. The bench could be Sandy Leon, Hanley, Brock Holt and Deven Marrero/Bryce Brentz/Blake Swihart/Marco Hernandez/Tzu-Wei Lin
Still, they need that big bat in the middle of the lineup if they want to contend.