MLB Free Agency: Ranking the Best Fits for Brandon Moss
Somewhat lost in the glut of free agent power hitters in MLB, veteran slugger Brandon Moss still has some clear landing spots.
Having Edwin Encarnacion wait until January to sign a contract was not a positive sign for many of the other free agent power hitters in MLB. Many would have thought that the market would have opened up after Encarnacion, but Mark Trumbo, Jose Bautista and Mike Napoli remain available.
Lost in the mix of the upper-tier hitters remaining, 32-year-old Brandon Moss has been relegated to wait for the market to move. Moss has been a solid power hitter throughout his career, hitting 20 or more home runs in four out of the last five seasons, including an impressive 28 bombs over 128 games in 2016.
Still, even with these credentials, the first baseman/corner outfielder has not been a name you hear much about in the rumor mill. His batting average and on-base percentage leave a lot to be desired. He hit for a measly .225 batting average last year, bringing his career batting average to down to .241. Moss walks a decent amount, but not to lift his on-base percentage enough to where you consider him a solid on-base threat.
Like most power hitters, Moss strikes out at a high clip. But the price tag will probably be low enough for teams to get over some of Moss’ weaknesses as a hitter.
Moss is a starting caliber player in MLB, and there are solid destinations that could make use of his power hitting skills.
5. San Francisco Giants
Role: Starting Left Fielder
Bobby Evans Brian Sabean brought in closer Mark Melancon to address his squad’s most glaring weakness. However, San Francisco is still somewhat unsettled in left field. At the moment, Bruce Bochy seems prepared to use a platoon of Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson to fill that void. The Giants have been left out of much MLB free agent talk since then as their payroll is close to its ceiling.
But if Evans does decide that he wants a more proven hitter in left field, Brandon Moss would be a welcomed addition. San Francisco has a couple of All-Star caliber hitters in Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. But no one in the lineup brings the type of sheer power that Moss would. This would make the former Cardinal much more valuable considering that he would have runners on base when he goes yard.
Signing Moss would also keep Eduardo Nunez at his more natural third base spot, and would give the team another option at first base if there were to be an injury.
Defensively, he would not be a perfect fit considering the amount of grass the veteran would have to cover in left field. But with the rangy Denard Span in center field, the pressure would be somewhat taken off.
Moss probably fits better in the American League, but the Giants are certainly a potential landing spot.
4. Philadelphia Phillies
Role: Starting Right Fielder
Somewhat of a surprise fit because the Phillies are not seen as “contenders” entering 2017, Philadelphia has its reasons for pursuing a player like Brandon Moss.
Having just inked center fielder Odubel Herrera for the long term and bringing back Jeremy Hellickson on a qualifying offer, the Phillies are clearly not against the idea of spending money. Ryan Howard‘s mega-flop of a contract just came off the books to open up some space in the budget.
General manager Matt Klentak did already bring in a veteran hitter when they traded with the Los Angeles Dodgers for Howie Kendrick. But while he’s going to be holding down left field, the other corner outfield spot remains open.
Aaron Altherr is presumably the starting right fielder if today was opening day, but he struggled greatly in his stint with the team last season. He could use some more seasoning at Triple-A with Moss getting the regular at bats at the MLB level.
Now it’s true that Moss doesn’t turn the Phillies into a contender in the NL East, but he could be a solid trade chip come July, especially if he continues to show that he is an above average home run threat.
Not many clubs have a spot for Brandon Moss, but the Phillies could use Moss at least for the first half of the 2017 regular season. That may be all it takes to find a match in a weak market for power hitters.
3. Texas Rangers
Role: Starting designated hitter/first base option
Texas has been frequently connected to power hitters, including former Ranger Mike Napoli. The American League West champions were also said to be strong contenders for Edwin Encarnacion, even though general manager Jon Daniels had expressed concerns about the price tag.
With the team not looking to add significant payroll in the form of a long-term commitment, Brandon Moss seems to be a reasonable plug-and-play option.
In the mold of a Mike Napoli, Moss can play first base, but would also thrive as a designated hitter. Not known for his defense, the 32-year-old may have more value if he could focus solely on his bat. Signing with Texas would allow him to do just that.
Jurickson Profar is slated to make most of the starts at first base. But the former top prospect has not proven himself enough to have a firm hold of the starting spot. Joey Gallo has been hyped as a potential 40 home run type player for most of his minor league career. However, he’s been unable to translate that talk into production.
Moss would give the Rangers a proven fallback option if both Profar and Gallo continue to underperform. His versatility would also cover the team if Shin-Soo Choo were to get injured, as he has problems staying on the field for the entire MLB regular season.
It’s an easy fit to project because of the amount of rumors regarding the Rangers and free agent power hitters. Moss fits that profile and his power would certainly play at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
.2. Toronto Blue Jays
Role: Corner Outfield/First Base Platoon Option
Toronto did have a much bigger need for first base and outfield help at the start of the MLB offseason. Since then they’ve signed Kendrys Morales to a three-year pact and have brought in the versatile Steve Pearce. However, these moves don’t necessarily rule out a the Jays in the bidding for Brandon Moss.
According to Blue Jays President of Baseball Operations Mark Shapiro, the franchise isn’t ruling out a reunion with Jose Bautista. This signals that Toronto could still add more offense, potentially in the form of Moss.
Justin Smoak and Pearce are set to split time at first base, but Moss is a definite upgrade over the former. He also can play both corner outfield spots, which would be ideal for a team that needs a platoon partner for Melvin Upton in left field. Moss would fill the void that Michael Saunders may leave in free agency. Ezequiel Carrera saw time in both corner outfield spots, and while he was not a liability in the starting lineup, Moss would be somewhat of insurance for him as well.
He won’t see much time at designated hitter because Morales can’t play the field, but his ability to cover multiple spots in the field is something that the Blue Jays have put some value on with the addition of Pearce. Plus, we all know that the Rogers Centre has been a blessing to hitters who rely on the long ball.
1. Baltimore Orioles
Role: Starting Outfielder/Designated Hitter
Buck Showalter has somewhat of a complicated roster right now. The Orioles appear set behind the plate and in the infield. The starting rotation also seems locked in with the team dealing Yovani Gallardo to the Seattle Mariners. However, the player they got in that deal possibly opens up more possibilities with what the front office does moving forward.
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We know that general manager Dan Duquette loves waiting for the market to play out and he’s been utilizing that strategy again this winter, having brought Seth Smith over from Seattle. He can play both corner outfield spots and be used in a platoon role as a designated hitter. Rookie Trey Mancini looks like the right-handed part of that DH platoon.
Moss is a left-handed hitter who can play both left and right field. I would say that he’s a more accomplished player than Smith, but neither is immune to being platooned. Like with Toronto, Moss may be best utilized like he was in St. Louis in 2016. Where he can play multiple positions and be put in situations where he can thrive.
Baltimore has a more wide open roster than the Blue Jays do, which makes him a slightly better fit there. His swing would also play great in Camden Yards. Recent reports are suggesting that the O’s may be moving on from Mark Trumbo, which opens up the possibility for a more affordable veteran bat.
Where do you think Brandon Moss ends up playing on MLB Opening Day? Share your thoughts in the comments below.