The Toronto Blue Jays currently have Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales at 1B/DH
With the MLB winter meetings kicking off today, Jon Morosi is reporting that the Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams interested in free agent first-baseman Mitch Moreland.
The 31-year-old has spent his entire career with the Texas Rangers since breaking through in 2010 and has been a steady source of moderate production from his position.
Moreland is coming off his second consecutive season of 20+ home runs but did see his on-base percentage fall to .298. Despite being valued at just 0.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), Moreland won his first career Gold Glove Award in 2016.
In terms of free agent fit, though, it’s difficult to line this up for the Toronto Blue Jays. Teams interpret first base defensive value much differently than the public data does at times, but even if the Blue Jays see Moreland as a top-end defender at the position, he does present some positional overlap with Justin Smoak and his $4.125 million salary.
A move of Smoak — however unlikely — would open the Blue Jays to this type of move again, but with Rowdy Tellez also knocking on the door and expected to open the season with triple-A Buffalo, there’s a bit of a logjam forming.
If potential free agent suitors view Moreland’s 2016 season as his floor, then 2015 is likely what they view as his potential ceiling. That season, Moreland was worth 2.3 WAR and posted a career-high OBP of .330.
His 23 home runs, 27 doubles, and 85 RBI either set or tied career highs, and if Moreland had of hit the open market last off-season, he might have been a stronger bet for multiple years with a strong salary and a guaranteed starting job.
It’s still likely he gets that, but probably from a lower-level team (or a strong team with a more pressing need) where he could still hit near the middle of the order and help to tighten the infield’s defence.