The last few days have just been filled with a growing sense of dread that the Red Sox are actually going to trade Mookie Betts, so it’s nice to get at least a little bit of positive news tonight. The Red Sox found that left-handed first baseman we’d been wondering if they’d sign, and it ended up being an awfully familiar face. As Ken Rosenthal first reported, Moreland is coming back on a one-year deal worth $3 million guaranteed. There is a team option for that amount for 2021 as well.
Free-agent 1B Mitch Moreland signs one-year, $3M deal with #RedSox, source tells The Athletic. Salary of $2.5M in 2020 with $3M club option or $500,000K buyout for ‘21.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 28, 2020
The deal was later confirmed by the Red Sox, who also announced Denyi Reyes would be designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the #RedSox designated RHP Denyi Reyes for assignment.— Red Sox (@RedSox) January 28, 2020
Moreland has obviously been with the Red Sox for a few years now, and while there hadn’t been any rumors around him and the team this winter it always felt somewhat inevitable that he would be back. On paper it is kind of a “meh” move as Moreland is fine but not world-beating. The lefty played in only 91 games last year due to injury and over his 335 plate appearances he hit .252/.328/.507 for a 112 wRC+. In his previous two seasons with the Red Sox he ended with wRC+’s of 101 and 98.
He brings more than that to the table, though. We’ll have more tomorrow on specific ripple effects from this — there are quite a bit for how relatively minor this deal is! — but he first and foremost provides a left-handed complement to Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec while also giving the former some opportunity a chance to move around and specifically take some playing time from José Peraza. Moreland is also tremendous in the clubhouse, which is particularly important here with those two young first baseman who are still very new to the position. There aren’t many better mentors to have around than Moreland.
As for Reyes, he was originally added to the 40-man roster prior to last season in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. It was an aggressive move on the starting pitcher, who had not pitched above High-A by that point. He struggled to start his 2019 at Double-A, but turned things around and ended up having a solid, if unspectacular, year. Over 151 1⁄3 innings he pitched to a 4.16 ERA and a 3.69 FIP with 116 strikeouts and 37 walks. As Alex Speier noted, Reyes was not invited to the Rookie Development Camp this year, which is not a great sign for a pitcher who should be on the verge of Triple-A and is already on the 40-man roster.
To clear a roster spot for Moreland’s return, Red Sox designate RHP Denyi Reyes for assignment. Reyes spent all of 2019 in Double-A, and wasn’t invited to the recent Rookie Development Program, suggesting he’d fallen out of the starting depth picture.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) January 28, 2020
The Red Sox don’t have a ton of rotation depth so Reyes sneaking through waivers couldn’t hurt. That said, given that he is young and with options, it’s not unforeseeable that a team takes a chance on him.