The Pittsburgh Pirates are in a position to add and subtract from the Major League roster. Could their first baseman be on the move?
Entering the 2021 season, Colin Moran was the no-doubt starter at first base. The Pittsburgh Pirates made this very clear before the season. The Bucs traded away their primary first baseman in Josh Bell during the previous offseason. There were a lot of reasons as to why the team moved on from Josh Bell.
More importantly, Moran made the Front Office feel confident enough in giving him the chance to be the everyday first baseman in 2021. Moran had outperformed Bell offensively since 2019 and played superior defense in comparison. Of course, the other motive was that Josh Bell was slated to make just over $6 million for the 2021 season while Moran made only $2.8 million.
To many the decision made sense. Moran had a really strong 2020 season and he definitely earned more at-bats for the 2021 season. Also, Ke’Bryan Hayes was slated to be the everyday third baseman.
Still, as Pittsburgh Pirates fans we know things do not always go the way they are supposed to. Colin Moran had a very tough 2021 season. He did not put up the power numbers that many suspected he would. A big part of that was because he battled multiple injuries in 2021. Moran missed a portion of the beginning of the season due to a concussion before returning in mid-June, only to fracture his wrist by the end of that month. Moran would not return until the second week of August.
All in all Colin Moran missed about 70 total games on the year. This is the lowest percentage of games he had played in for his career. Both injuries were kind of “random” injuries in the sense of there was really nothing he could do to avoid it. Some players deal with nagging injuries or just find themselves labeled “injury-prone”. This should not be the case for Moran.
In fact, it is hard to say how Colin Moran’s 2021 season should be viewed. His batting average was just .258 and his OPS was just north of .700, a career-low. At the same time, it was tough to get a good read on Moran due to his time missed. Concussion symptoms obviously are not helpful and a fractured wrist, as we saw with Hayes, takes time to get right again.
It will be interesting to see what 2022 holds for Colin Moran. Moran is entering his second year of arbitration, which gives him team control through 2023. The Front Office is in a tough spot. Do they hope that Moran bounces back and becomes an extension candidate? Or will the team try and move him in a trade? Also, what happens if the team re-signs Yoshi Tsutsugo?
Moran is a left-handed bat with some pop and a solid fielder at a relatively cheap price. He could gain interest from many teams as a platoon first baseman or a lefty bench bat. The gamble, of course, will be if the team does retain him, he needs to bounce back and stay healthy. If not, then the Bucs may not have any value left in Moran past 2022.