Welcome to Rum Bunter’s 12 Days of Trademas! On each day between now and the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, we will profile a player or two who may be a potential trade target for the Pittsburgh Pirates. We will highlight both the cases for and against that player in order to give you the full scope of what acquiring that player might entail.
Before we break down today’s potential trade target, make sure to check out yesterday’s entry about Adam Lind, and give a listen to Rum Bunter Radio, as we went more in-depth about Lind as an option for the Pirates.
Today we are going to discuss a late addition to the Pittsburgh Pirates rumor engine – Mitch Moreland of the Texas Rangers. Moreland is a first basemen plying his trade in his sixth season. At 29 years old, he is enjoying a fine season as you will see below. Perhaps it was Ken Rosenthal who ignited these rumors with a recent piece in which he named the Pirates as a good fit for Moreland’s services. From his piece on the matter:
"The Rangers are overly left-handed, so trading Moreland to clear first for Joey Gallo next season might hold some appeal[…]Still, the Rangers likely would want at least a young starting pitcher for Moreland. Maybe a team desperate enough for a hitter in this offensively challenged era would meet the Rangers’ price (Moreland would be a terrific fit for say, the Angels or Pirates)"
Jayson Stark quickly put a little water on the Moreland trade flames with this tweet.
Even though the Rangers don’t seem to be actively shopping him, the Pirates would do well to kick the tires on a potential deal and see if they can catch the Rangers’ eye. Before we get into the nuts and bolts, we set the table by taking a look at Moreland’s career stats.
Moreland is easily on pace to at least match his career highs in HR, RBI, and AVG. He is a left-handed bat that has also spent a little bit of time in right field (38 games).
The case for Mitch Moreland
The book on Moreland comes down to his left/right splits. Here’s a quick look:
As you can see, Moreland struggles against LHP, with a 26% strikeout rate (22% against right handed pitching). In many ways Moreland – and by extension any potential acquisition that plays 1B – must be judged against the current in-house options at first. With that in mind, Moreland’s work against lefties would be a huge upgrade over Pedro Alvarez, who slashes .179/.233/.214 and strikes out in 39.3% of the rare at-bats he gets versus southpaws in 2015. Equally as important is Moreland’s defense. In six major-league seasons Moreland has exactly 19 errors. That is a tremendous improvement over Alvarez to say the least. Having a defensively reliable first baseman would allow the Pirates to avoid double switches late in games and keep his bat in play.
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Bringing Moreland into the fold immediately gives the Pirates a legitimate hitter with pop to bat behind Andrew McCutchen. As any of my readers know, I am huge on lineup flexibility, and inserting Moreland anywhere in the lineup instantly improves protection up and down the top two-thirds of the order.
Off-the-field, Moreland is in a very attractive 1-year, $2.95 million deal, with another year of arbitration control in 2016. Even considering a likely raise, the extra year of control in addition to the likelihood of shedding Alvarez’s salary should render this a moot concern.
The case against Mitch Moreland
The chief concern on Moreland remains his performance against left handers. This boils down to a philosophical dilemma. If the Pittsburgh Pirates are attempting to upgrade over Alvarez as we all expect, is it productive to bring in a player with similar shotcomings? Some may say no. Although the Pirates’ splits versus LHP is close to RHP, one would think that the point of acquiring any player is to shore up deficiencies across the board, not just in one or two areas.
The talk that the Rangers aren’t exactly actively shopping him also means that the price may be too high. If the Rangers are truly trying to get rid of Yovani Gallardo, they may try to package them together which will drive the price up considerably. The Rangers are so devoid of pitching that they may want prized arms Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, or Nick Kingham.
If the price is right, I absolutely believe that Moreland would be a great fit for the Pirates. Although he struggles against LHP, he is still an improvement against what Alvarez currently provides. Defensively Moreland and Alvarez are worlds apart, which cannot be overlooked.
What do you think? Let us know on twitter! You can tweet us here @rumbunter or use the #12DaysOfTrademas hashtag! You can also air your grievances in the comments section below or on our facebook page. Make sure to stay tuned tomorrow for the fifth day of Trademas!