Major League Baseball’s annual winter meetings began today, and the first bit of Blue Jays news that leaked out was somewhat surprising. According to Jon Morosi, the Jays have shown interest in Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland. And I, uhhh, am not really sure why!
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 4, 2016
Maybe they want to bring him in to sit around and tell juicy stories about his time with the Texas Rangers? I don’t know? Because that makes about as much sense as spending money to add another first baseman that isn’t Edwin Encarnacion to this already first baseman-heavy roster.
As we know, the Jays have already inked Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33 million contract to go along with Justin Smoak, who was given a two-year contract extension with an option for a third year back in July that is no less confusing now than it was at the time when pen was put to paper. With Morales and Smoak already locked up, Edwin Encarnacion still sorta maybe hopefully still a possibility to return, and highly-touted prospect Rowdy Tellez banging on the door, it’s difficult to understand why the Jays would be interested in signing Moreland, another first baseman with zero versatility.
Moreland has played his entire seven-year Major League career with the Texas Rangers and has pretty much represented the epitome of the good-but-not-great first baseman. He’s hit 20 home runs three different times, but has only posted an OPS higher than .800 once over the course of a full season. He plays well defensively, earning the American League Gold Glove for first base in 2012, strikes out quite a bit, and doesn’t walk very much. Sound familiar?
Mitch Moreland is basically the player the Blue Jays probably thought Justin Smoak was/is/will become when he was signed to that three-year extension earlier this year. And Moreland, well, isn’t that good. Last season, he was only worth 0.4 wins above replacement according to Fangraphs, and next season, Steamer projects he’ll be worth 0.8 wins.
I mean, if the Jays are planning on blasting Smoak into outer space, sure, Moreland could make sense. Like I said, he’s essentially the better version of Smoak in every way, and I would be much, much more comfortable with Moreland manning first base every day next season than I would Smoak, obviously. But adding Moreland on top of Smoak and Morales? While that would fit the goal of making the Jays more left handed, it would also completely go against the sentiment management has expressed of making the time more versatile, younger, and faster.
— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) December 4, 2016
And then there’s this!
I have no clue what the fuck is going on here beyond a group of professional baseball players taking a photo at David Ortiz’s golf tournament in the Dominican Republic, but I hope it involves Marcus Stroman wooing Dexter Fowler into signing a contract to play baseball in Toronto! Because while Mitch Moreland doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense for this club, Fowler really does.
Sure, you’re definitely overpaying off of a career year with Fowler, but you’re also acquiring a player who’s posted career average OPS of .788, has speed, plays pretty well defensively, and has a left-handed bat. If watching Justin Smoak play first 130 times this season makes you feel ill, the idea of an outfield that consists of Zeke Carrera, Melvin Upton, and Kevin Pillar will make you want to pull your stomach out of your mouth.