The 2017 offseason is in full bloom, and the league has experienced several major shakeups already. The Boston Red Sox, though looking to defend their American League East crown, have surprisingly been quiet so far. On Monday, however, they finally made a bit of noise. Though it certainly wasn’t the move fans wanted, or proabably expected, Boston announced that they have re-signed free agent first baseman Mitch Moreland on a two-year contract. Moreland will make at least $13 million over that period.
Source: Mitch Moreland to make $13 million over two years, plus incentives.
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 18, 2017
Mitch Moreland Returns to Red Sox
First and foremost, this means the Red Sox are likely out on Eric Hosmer. He and J.D. Martinez had been considered Boston’s top targets this winter, but now the team’s focus likely lands solely on Martinez. Hosmer, though talented, has been insonsistent at the plate over the course of his career. He’s likely to land a contract worth about as much per year as the deal Martinez will eventually get, and the Red Sox were never realistically going to give that kind of money to two players this year.
This deal also means first base is now off the team’s list of needs, both now and in the future. Moreland didn’t have a great season in 2017, but he’s a capable hitter and an excellent defender. For the next two seasons, he’ll at least be an adequate option at first. After that, assuming they continue their development, either Sam Travis or Michael Chavis could inherit the job. Both have power potential; while Chavis is naturally a third baseman, he could transition to the other side of the diamond. In addition, Rafael Devers could move to first from third, and either Travis or Chavis could play third. One of the three could even end up at first before Moreland’s new deal runs out, if he struggles to produce. Such a turn of events would also save the Red Sox some money, as it could prevent Moreland from reaching some incentive thresholds.
In the meantime, the Red Sox at least have a known quantity at first. Moreland joined the Red Sox in the last offseason, and quickly became a fan-favorite. Early on, he led the team in doubles and earned the nickname “Mitchy Two-Bags”. However, as the season progressed, his offensive output faltered. He finished the campaign with a commendable 34 doubles, 22 home runs, and 79 RBI, but hit just .246 in the process. The veteran, who came into the league with the Texas Rangers in 2010, owns a .252 career batting average, so this is likely who he is at this point. Now 32 years old, Moreland probably won’t see a career renaissance before he hangs his cleats up.
Boston will certainly make a few more moves before the 2018 season starts. They need power and pitching, and the internal options aren’t ready. Who knows? Matinez could be the next domino to fall.