Mitch Moreland has been one of the first half MVPs for Red Sox. With Hanley Ramirez essentially out of the question at first base with shoulder injuries and other Hanley issues, Moreland has played every day and been huge. He’s hit .257, which has dropped while he’s been playing with a broken toe. He also has 19 doubles, and 12 home runs and 41 RBIs, while continuing to play gold glove defense at first. He’s proved to be one of best bargain free agents of the summer only being paid 5.5M. He hasn’t been a superstar, but he’s heavily exceeded expectations especially while playing with a broken big toe recently.
And he probably won’t be back next season.
For better or for worse, Sam Travis has been up with the Red Sox essentially in a backup first base role. With Moreland having a broken toe, it’s questionable why Travis has only played sparingly throughout his longest stint with the Sox.
Whether they simply think he’s too good for Triple-A or they’re grooming him to be Moreland’s replacement next season, he’s stayed in the majors without getting any consistent at bats. He has a solid .741 OPS in 182 plate appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket, which is good but nothing to write something about. He may be up with the Sox simply because they don’t have another option at first base, with Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge on the DL. But, it seems like the 23 year old would be better off getting 4 at-bats per game rather than being a back-up in the majors.
But most importantly, Travis is 23, and Moreland is 31. Extending Moreland is a block for Travis, who only plays first, and would essentially force the Red Sox to trade Travis. As great as Moreland has been, choosing a 31 year old for a 23 year old with untapped potential is a bad decision.
However, Sam Travis hasn’t proved he’s an everyday first baseman yet. He’s been good when he’s played, but putting all your faith in a 24 year old first baseman who doesn’t have a full season of experience yet also isn’t a great decision for 2018.
Should Travis be getting regular at bats in Triple-A, or are the Sox getting him acclimated to life in the majors and grooming him to be the starter next season? Regardless, Sam Travis is going to get his shot next season, and Moreland may just be a one year stop gap.
But don’t close the door on “Mitchy Two Bags” just yet — there is no guaranteed that Travis is going to be able to stick as an everyday first basemen. Don’t be shocked either if he’s brought back to platoon with Travis in order to give Travis one more year of development. That may sound nice, and I’m sure Dave Dombrowski would love to make that happen, but Moreland is in for a nice payday, and will be looking for somewhere he can play every day and hit in the middle of the lineup. That won’t be guaranteed in Boston.
The Sox will have a decision to make this winter, but for now, the two are going to try and bring another World Series trophy back to Boston.
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