Veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland is heading back to the Red Sox on a one-year deal with a club option for 2021. The contract, which guarantees Moreland $3 million, includes a $2.5 million salary for 2020 and a $3 million club option or a $500,000 buyout for 2021. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the news, which the team quickly confirmed:
Free-agent 1B Mitch Moreland signs one-year, $3M deal with #RedSox, source tells The Athletic. Salary of $2.5M in 2020 with $3M club option or $500,000K buyout for ‘21.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 28, 2020
Moreland, 34, is heading into his 11th major-league season and fourth with the Red Sox. While the left-handed hitter is essentially a platoon player — he has a .789 career OPS against right-handers but just a .671 OPS against lefties — he’s carved out an important role in Boston and was an All-Star while playing 124 games for the World Champion Red Sox (not sure if that should be followed by an asterisk) in 2018. While he missed nearly two months with a lower back strain in 2019, he had arguably the best offensive season of his career, posting a .835 OPS and a 112 OPS+ over 335 plate appearances with 19 homers.
Moreland figures to be the Red Sox’s primary first baseman against right-handers in 2020, though things could change if Dustin Pedroia is healthy enough to play second base on a regular basis. If Pedroia remains out with a myriad of physical issues that have limited him to nine games over the past two seasons, then second-year infielder Michael Chavis figures to rove between first and second base, likely starting at first most of the time against lefty starters. Jose Peraza figures to get the starts at second base when Chavis plays first.
Right-hander Denyi Reyes was designated for assignment so that Moreland could be added back to Boston’s 40-man roster.