It’s not quite Edwin Encarnacion, but the Cleveland Indians are reportedly one of two teams likely to sign Mitch Moreland. Texas Rangers beat writer Jeff Wilson is reporting that the Indians, as well as the Boston Red Sox, are both in the mix for the lifetime Ranger, who is expected to make a decision soon.
Source: Boston now in on Mitch Moreland, who could be making a decision soon. Cleveland also in the mix. #Rangers are out.— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) December 6, 2016
Earlier reports had the Indians tied to Moreland, as well as similar players like Adam Lind and Mike Napoli so this is not really a surprise. Of these three first basemen I was more partial to Lind, but it appears the Indians are most-heavily going after Moreland.
There is not a lot of upside left for Moreland, who turned 31 in September. The lefty has hit 20 home runs in three of his last four seasons, however, and Steamer believes he can do it again in 2017. He’s coming off of a one-year, $5.7 million deal with the Rangers last season, which is likely right around where he’ll land this offseason.
On the surface, the Indians going after another left-handed hitter seems strange, but the Indians previously indicated that they are looking for “best overall” hitters, not just righties to balance out their lineup. And for good reason — Indians batters did not show a particular split in 2016, despite the lefty-heavyness of the lineup. As a team, the Indians slashed .268/.330/.419 against righties and .259/.329/.434 against lefties.
Moreland would not provide the massive improvement of someone like Encarnacion, but it’s a much more likely outcome for the Tribe, who are looking to replicate the lightning in a bottle they got with Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis last season.