According to a recent article by ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, the Pittsburgh Pirates have shown interest in signing the veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland. The 35-year-old Moreland is looking to play in his 12th MLB season in 2021 after spending the first 11 seasons of his career with the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, and most recently the San Diego Padres.
After the recent trade of Josh Bell, the Pittsburgh Pirates are set to start the season with Colin Moran at first base, but the only other players on the active roster that can play first as well is utility man Phillip Evans, and newly acquired catcher Michael Perez. While Evans had a lot of success in an injury-shortened 2020 season, he still has only two career games at first base, one appearance last season. Perez has only three career games at first.
Outside of those two Will Craig is the only other option that could and most likely will see some time at first in 2021. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates do not appear to be very high on Craig as they designated him for assignmnet earlier this offseason and outrighted him off the 40-man roter. So, it’s understandable that general manager Ben Cherington would like to add another proven player to the roster who can play first base since there really isn’t a true backup.
Starting with the Red Sox, Moreland jumped out on a tear to start the season hitting .328 with 8 home runs for a bad Boston team before being traded to San Diego where he unfortunately struggled. Over the last 20 games of the season he hit .203 with only 2 home runs, which is certainly not what the Padres had in mind when they acquired him. Overall the 2020 season was definitely not “bad” for the former all-star, he finished hitting .265, with 10 home runs, and a 1.2 WAR. For a backup first baseman, that would be pretty good.
Would adding Moreland to the Pirate bench be a good move for the team? If the team gets anywhere where the production the Red Sox got from him then absolutely, because they could easily move him to a contender at the deadline for more future assets, and adding a veteran prescience to the locker room of a young team with nothing to lose like the Pittsburgh Pirates is never a bad move.
While he isn’t the same power guy he used to be, and probably won’t hit 20+ home runs he once did, the Pittsburgh Pirates could definitely use a little pop to the offense when called upon. What’s the worst that could happen? Let’s say he struggles, like I said, there’s nothing to lose here. The team could easily cut ties by mid-season with a trade similar to that of Jarrod Dyson this past season. Also, I’m fully expecting Moreland’s 2021 numbers to be much better than Dyson’s lackluster Pirates tenure.
The other teams noted to be interested in him are the Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies, and the Boston Red Sox. Surely, Moreland may be more interested in going to a team where he could start everyday and all of those teams can probably give him that opportunity. The thought of getting an everyday job is especially enticing in Colorado, where he would get a chance to put up some power numbers again in that ballpark. I’m expecting Moreland to sign elsewhere but it’s definitely interesting to hear that Cherington is looking for first base help, hopefully that guy is Moreland.