NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Having spent the early part of Tuesday addressing their bullpen and starting rotation, the Red Sox turned their attention to their offense later on and reached agreement with first baseman Mitch Moreland on a one-year, $5.5 million deal.
Moreland will likely play first base against most righthanders, with Hanley Ramirez shifting to the DH spot.
Regarded as a superb defender at first -- he won the Gold Glove for first basemen in the American League last month -- Moreland can also expect to see some time in the DH slot.
Moreland gives the Sox some power from the left side in a lineup that, in the wake of David Ortiz's retirement, leaned heavily to the right side.
Last year, Moreland had a slash line of .233/.298/.422 in what was something of a down year for him with Texas. Against righthanders, he slugged just .407, but that something of a career aberration, since, over the course of six major league seasons, he's slugged .457.
Moreland hit 22 homers, one shy of his career high (23 in both 2015 and 2013.
The $5.5 million is a relatively modest salary for the Sox, who chose not to pursue two other bats who signed one-year deals -- Carlos Beltran for $16 million with Houston and Matt Holliday for $13 million with the Yankees -- because of payroll limits and concern about exceeding the competitive balance tax (CBT) of $195 million.
In theory, the Sox can use Moreland as a one-year placeholder at first before going with Sam Travis in 2018. Travis missed nearly all of last year with a knee injury and could use more development time at first base.
Unlike most seasons since 2003, when the Red Sox could happily pencil David Ortiz in as their primary DH, the Sox don't intend to have a single DH for 2017.
Instead, following an industry trend, the club intends to use the spot as an opportunity through which it can rotate a number of players. It's expected that both Dustin Pedroia and Pablo Sandoval will each get some at-bats as the DH, thus preserving them a bit over the course of the long season.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.com was the first to report the agreement in principle. Jon Paul Morosi of the MLB Network was the first with contract terms.