Mitch Moreland did exactly as expected with a very comfortable .246/.326/.769 slash coupled with 22 home runs and 79 RBI. Moreland – a left-handed hitter – is an excellent fielder who has expressed a strong desire to stay in Boston. As a free agent Moreland’s $5.5 Million for 2017 should get a significant boost in years and money.
Moreland did the job and any comparison to David Ortiz should be ignored as Moreland was not supposed to replace Ortiz’s production. I would also expect the Red Sox to look for other options with one that many consider the first baseman of the future.
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Sam Travis is a hitter. He looks like a hitter and shows it with some decent gap power. But where is the home run power? Despite his muscular build Travis is simply not a home run threat. In 82 at-bats with the Red Sox Travis hit none out. At Pawtucket Travis hit just six in 82 games. So, this is not a traditional Red Sox right-handed power bat. Can the Red Sox absorb that lack of home run power?
Blake Swihart is a long shot at first base since he has no experience at that sack. The Red Sox have again switched on Swihart and returned him to catcher, but maybe the Arizona Fall League will be a better indication of intent.
Swihart – once a can’t miss prospect – may finally have resolved his ankle issues that have stalled his career. The level of talent the switch hitter once displayed makes it tough to give up on that level of potential. At first base? Doubtful.
If the Red Sox decide to go all in fiscally that could certainly change the dynamics. Logan Morrison had a break out year with Tampa slugging 38 home runs. Was that just a statistical bump for the left-handed hitting Morrison? Moreland has a better glove and is close in run production.
Mike Napoli hits a bundle of home runs (29) and plays a respectable first base, but a .193 average and 168 K’s takes him off any list despite his noted leadership ability. Again – Moreland a better choice.
The one that offers the best combination of glove, power and average is left-handed hitting Eric Hosmer. This is a big – very big – ticket to play first base. Hosmer is in the prime of his career so you would expect big money and long years in any contract.
Hanley Ramirez has one year left on his contract if an option does not kick in and it could be spent at first base. Originally Moreland and Ramirez would flip-flop between first and DH, but a sore shoulder by Ramirez curtailed that. The Red Sox return Ramirez to first depending upon signing or trading for talent.
Carlos Santana is a switch-hitter with excellent power and an expected bump in his contract. Numbers wise, he is quite similar in 2017 to Moreland.