The San Diego Padres have a $3 million option on left-handed first baseman Mitch Moreland for the 2021 season. Is it a no-brainer to bring the veteran back for next season?
It is never too early to contemplate the roster for the 2021 season if you are the San Diego Padres.
General manager A.J.Preller is a man on a mission. The franchise participated in their first playoff games in over 14 years, but the goal is not to just make the playoffs- the Padres want to win it all. In assembling a championship-caliber team, you must have viable veterans.
This trade deadline, the Padres acquired Mitch Moreland from the Boston Red Sox for minor leaguers Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario. Both young prospects come with high regard, but the Padres attempted to win a World Series title, and prospects have virtually no value to winning teams. Moreland was a solid acquisition, especially if you factor in the finger injury to Eric Hosmer late in the season. Hosmer hurt his finger on a bunt attempt, and it was unclear, at the time, if he would be ready to roll come playoff time.
Moreland’s first taste of National League pitching did not result in hefty production. At the time of the trade with Boston, Moreland owned a 1.177 OPS and a .328 batting average. For the Padres, in 20 games, Moreland produced a .203/.247/.362 slash line with a .609 OPS. His playing time was sporadic as Hosmer returned from his finger injury swiftly and held down the starting first baseman’s job. His DH time was also not regimented as Jurickson Profar caught fire late in the year with his bat.
This lack of playing time might have been an issue for the 11-year veteran. But his value on the bench and in the locker room is not measurable. Moreland comes with a championship attitude, and that is something the Padres craved.
With an opportunity to bring back Moreland for the 2021 season, the Padres have a big decision to make. They can bring back the first baseman for $3 million or buy-out his option at $500,000. You can make a significant argument that Moreland is well-worth the $3 million, but there are some questions on what his role would be for the Padres moving forward.
Utilizing the DH changed National League baseball’s outlook, but it is unclear if it will return in 2021. If there will be a DH next year, Moreland has tremendous value around the league and the Padres. If not, then the Padres will have a hard time justifying paying his that much to sit on the bench and backup Eric Hosmer. An extra $2.5 million could be spent on an area of need rather than to bolster the bench. It all really might come down to whether the designated hitter position returns to the National League.
A.J. Preller recently echoed that sentiment in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It would help a little bit having a sense of if there is a DH or not. We’ll try to get a sense of budget and try to get a sense of where he fits in,” Preller said. The team is clearly mulling the decision as they regroup for the next season. Mitch Moreland and his future with the Padres is certainly up in the air. In time, when MLB settles its rules regarding 2021, we will have a clearer idea of Moreland’s future in San Diego.