Red Sox News: Mitch Moreland reveals why he returned to Boston
By Sean Penney
Mitch Moreland revealed the reasons why he turned down other offers to sign a short-term deal to return to the Boston Red Sox.
When the 2019 season came to a close last fall, it seemed as though we had seen the last of Mitch Moreland in a Boston Red Sox uniform. Ownership’s desire to slash payroll was expected to squeeze their veteran free agents out of town in order to replace them with cheaper alternatives.
Apparently, the Red Sox could afford him after all, reaching an agreement with Moreland on a 1-year, $2.5 million deal with a $3 million club option for 2021 ($500K buyout).
A long-term deal wasn’t in the cards for the 34-year old coming off an injury-plagued season but Moreland should have been able to secure more than $3 million in guaranteed money on the open market. Instead, he turned down multiple offers from other interested suitors to return for a fourth season with the Red Sox.
The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham caught up with Moreland to discuss why he wanted to stay.
"“The biggest thing for me was I’ve enjoyed my time in Boston,” Moreland said, per Abraham. “It feels like home for us and there’s a good group of guys. I’m comfortable there.“It’s a good family atmosphere, too, and that means a lot to me.”"
This has been an offseason of turmoil for the Red Sox that has led us to question what the atmosphere in the clubhouse will be when spring training arrives. Alex Cora has been banished for bringing his sign-stealing tricks with him from Houston. Expensive star players such as Mookie Betts and David Price have seen their names swirling in trade rumors. The comfortable setting that Moreland describes might not be here this season.
Which is exactly why they need Moreland. He’s a veteran who is known for being a good clubhouse guy, respected by his teammates and willing to do anything the team asks of him.
Part of what he will be tasked with is grooming the club’s young infielders. Bobby Dalbec is expected to make his big league debut this season. He’s a natural third baseman but with his path blocked by Rafael Devers, Dalbec should see most of his time at first base. If Dalbec doesn’t break camp with the major league team, Michael Chavis will be asked to handle some first base. It’s a position he gained some experience at last season but it’s also not his natural spot.
Moreland is a former Gold Glove first baseman who can help these up-and-coming players learn the position.
"“I feel comfortable in that position,” Moreland said. “It’s something I bring to the table. I’ve had some experience and I want to pass that along.”"
Being a mentor and a leader are traits that bring value to this team but Moreland can also still produce on the field. In addition to his strong defense, his bat still bring some pop to the lineup. Moreland hit .252 with a .835 OPS, 19 home runs and 58 RBI in 91 games last season. Missing significant time put a damper on his counting stats but Mitchy Two-Bags still racks up extra-base hits when he’s healthy.
The Red Sox haven’t given their fans much to applaud this offseason but retaining a fan-favorite buys them a bit of goodwill. It may seem as though this team is a mess but Moreland’s comments about why he stayed suggest otherwise.