Rangers drawing interest for Left-handed hitting Moreland
The Rangers are drawing significant interest in first baseman Mitch Moreland, but aren’t motivated to trade him, according to major-league sources.
Similar news is likely to emerge about other under-the-radar offensive targets in the days leading to the non-waiver deadline on July 31.
The trade market for hitters isn’t exactly grand.
The Padres’ Justin Upton is out with an oblique issue and has a .544 OPS since June 1. The Athletics’ Ben Zobrist missed most of May after undergoing left-knee surgery, rebounded with an .879 OPS in June, but has slipped to .673 in July.
The Brewers’ Carlos Gomez is hot this month. The Reds’ Jay Bruce is enjoying a fine season. But the quality choices, for the most part, are few and far between.
So teams are inquiring on the likes of Moreland, a left-handed hitting first baseman whose .862 OPS is higher than any of the above-mentioned players — and whose .945 OPS against right-handed pitching would have ranked fifth in the AL entering Tuesday’s play if he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the leaders in that department (he was 21 PAs short).
Moreland, though, is earning a mere $2.95 million this season. His salary next season likely will rise to the $5 million range — still a bargain. After that, he will be a free agent.
The Rangers are overly left-handed, so trading Moreland to clear first for Joey Gallo next season might hold some appeal (Gallo, primarily a third baseman, played seven games at first last season at Double A and also has manned the position in Instructional League.)
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). But chances are, the Rangers will hold Moreland, then sort through their options during the offseason.
For now, the talk continues. It’s that time of year — the time when teams seek obvious and not-so-obvious solutions.