For the second consecutive winter, Red Sox fans are waiting and waiting for their favorite baseball team to sign or trade for a big bat. For the second consecutive offseason, Boston brass responded by striking a deal with Mitch Moreland. The 2017 first baseman is coming back to the Red Sox on a two-year deal worth a total of $13 million.
Bit of a surprise: #RedSox announce signing of free-agent 1B Mitch Moreland to a two-year contract.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 18, 2017
My gut reaction to this move: *Extremely Arrested Development Voice* Him? Obviously, it’s hard to fully contextualize this move and give it a full grade without knowing what else is in store for this winter. For as much as Dave Dombrowski has said that this team only has room to add one bat, I just can’t imagine a scenario in which Moreland is the biggest move made this offseason. It seems more than likely that they are still planning a hard run at J.D. Martinez.
As for Moreland himself, let’s take a little look at who he is as a player. Moreland was a pleasant surprise for much of the 2017 season, though it seems in hindsight that his performance has become a little overrated by the general fanbase. While he had some strong moments, his overall numbers still came in slightly below-average. By the end of the year, the lefty had accrued 576 plate appearances and hit .246/.326/.443 for a 98 wRC+. Of course, we should also mention that he had some broken toe issues as well as a fight with the flu that affected his numbers. He is also a strong defensive first baseman, which can be an underrated skillset.
All of that being said, this just seems like a downgrade to me over the idea of signing Martinez for DH and keeping Hanley Ramirez as the primary first baseman. At the end of the day, this deal is absolutely not going to kill the Red Sox and is largely “meh,” but it’s also not the way I would have gone. We’ll have more on this in the coming days.