Red Sox

Moreland ready to take care of 'unfinished business' in new deal with Red Sox

Moreland ready to take care of 'unfinished business' in new deal with Red Sox

It’s the move before the move. It has to be.

Mitch Moreland’s quietly strong 2017 season led to a reunion with the Red Sox on Monday, when a two-year, $13 million deal through 2019 plus another potential $1 million in incentives became official.

"I was hoping so,” Moreland said of a return to Boston. “Going into the offseason, obviously had a few questions about it there at the end of the season, and I'll echo what I said then: I loved playing here, loved the guys — everything about it. We had a pretty successful year obviously, didn't finish the way we wanted. Looking forward to being back and maybe taking care of some unfinished business.”

The move gives the Red Sox a reliable first base option, although it does not give the fan base the news its been dying for to this point: the addition of a tremendous power hitter.

Likely, that addition is still to come, although it clearly won’t be at first base, where free agent Eric Hosmer is one of the top names on the market. 

“We still continue to feel that we have the opportunity to add someone else to our club from an offensive perspective that won’t be a first baseman, but we feel we have a DH, that between Hanley [Ramirez] and if I could find someone else, outfield spots, that would give us plenty of at-bats and opportunities for somebody to contribute in a full-time fashion,” Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “I don’t know if it will happen or not, but there are some names out there, people from a trade and free agent perspective that we’ll continue to talk to.”

The Red Sox did look elsewhere for a first baseman before going back to Moreland.

“We’ve stayed in contact with Mitch’s representative really all offseason,” Dombrowski said. “We liked the job that Mitch did for us last year. We knew he wanted to come back here. We wanted to explore some other options, which they were aware [of], and so we did that.”

The deal started to pickup steam Friday, per Dombrowski. Dombrowski suspected teams that missed out on Carlos Santana, who signed with the Phillies, jumped into the fray.

Dombrowski said he would be comfortable with the lineup as it is today, but that might just be his way of attempting to create a bit of leverage. Realistically, most everyone knows the Red Sox need another big bat.

“Yeah, I'd feel comfortable with it,” Dombrowski said of his lineup as currently constituted. “I do believe a lot of our people will be better internally than last year. We are looking to improve it … but yeah, I feel comfortable. I think you also have to combine offense with defense and I think we have a good defensive ball club. I think when people look at Mitch sometimes there are a couple guys out there that hit more home runs. (Guys who) from an offensive perspective, that people could think may be more appealing.

“But for us, we really like the all-around game that Mitch brings to us offensively and defensively. But yeah, I'd feel comfortable. We do have a variety of ways that we could go and explore different ways as we go forward. But I also think, at least right now, we're in a position that we could go forward as we are now.”

How exactly the Sox will use Moreland is to be determined. A share situation with Ramirez seems viable.

Moreland’s production in 2017, his first season in Boston, was better than expected. Now entering his age-32 season, Moreland hit .246 with 22 home runs, and set career-highs in games (149), doubles (34) and walks (57). He also did well in the postseason, going 5-for-13 against the Astros in the first round.

A fractured left toe slowed Moreland and messed up his mechanics for a time, but he played through pain and skipped the disabled list. Moreland said he had a minor procedure after the season to repair a small meniscus tear in his left knee.

“That was the most he ever played,” Dombrowski said of 2017. “He's really a gamer. He'll play all the time. He played injured. But I think you always have to be careful.”

Moreland’s incentives are built around time on the field. Moreland makes $6.5 million in each of 2018 and 2019, plus another potential $1 million in incentives, sources said. He can make up to $500,000 each year: if he reaches 500 plate appearances in either season, he gets $250,000, and he gets another $250,000 if he reaches 550 plate appearances.

A platoon situation would allow Moreland and Ramirez, who have both had health issues, to rest more than normal. It would also provide depth if one of them does wind up on the disabled list.

Ramirez’s contract is basically unmovable because of a $22 million vesting option that kicks in for 2019 if he has 497 plate appearances in 2018. The option calls for 1,050 plate appearances combined between 2017-18, plus passing a physical.

Dombrowski said he did not feel it would be necessary to move someone currently on the team to make an addition.

“There's a lot of things to be done in the industry between now and spring training and we'll keep abreast of what those things are and see if we can still help ourselves,” Dombrowski said.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Report: Red Sox trade target Jeurys Familia close to A's deal

Report: Red Sox trade target Jeurys Familia close to A's deal

Earlier in the week, the New York Post's Joel Sherman reported the Boston Red Sox were among several teams inquiring about the availability of New York Mets reliever Jeurys Familia.

But it appears the veteran closer is likely headed to the West Coast, according to ESPN's Buster Olney:

In 40 appearances this season for the last-place Mets, Familia has posted a 2.88 ERA with 17 saves and a 1.23 WHIP. The Red Sox have been actively seeking to add another veteran arm to their bullpen before the July 31 trade deadline, a search that has included talks for Orioles closer Zach Britton according to FanCred Sports' Jon Heyman.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Price, Red Sox win again by blanking Tigers, 1-0

Price, Red Sox win again by blanking Tigers, 1-0

DETROIT -- One run was enough for David Price and the Red Sox - but only after Boston escaped a couple of dicey jams.

Price pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning and the Red Sox kept right on rolling in their first game after the All-Star break, beating the Detroit Tigers 1-0 on Friday night. Price worked out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation in the fourth, and reliever Matt Barnes maneuvered through a tough spot of his own in the eighth.

The Red Sox (69-30) have won 13 of their last 14, have baseball's best record and extended their lead to 5 1/2 games over the New York Yankees in the AL East. Price (11-6) walked one and struck out five in 6 1/3 innings.

"Any time you can win 1-0, that's a good game," Price said. "We got a run there in that first inning, and everybody did their job after that."

Steve Pearce hit an RBI double in the first, and the Tigers could never match that one run. Matthew Boyd (4-9) allowed a run and three hits in five-plus innings. He struck out six and walked two.

Barnes wriggled out of a jam in the eighth after the Tigers put a runner on third with one out. Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth for his 31st save in 33 chances.

Detroit has lost seven of eight.

Price has 97 wins from 2012-18, matching teammate Chris Sale for the most in the American League during that span. He retired the first nine batters he faced Friday, then got in trouble by allowing three straight singles to start the fourth.

"We had some chances, but he made a lot of good pitches in big spots and when he made a mistake, we fouled them off," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's a very good pitcher who can move the ball all over the plate, and he's been doing it to teams for a long time."

With the bases loaded, John Hicks flied out to shallow left field, starting a wild play that ended with Boston second baseman Brock Holt on the ground injured. Andrew Benintendi caught Hicks' fly and threw wildly toward the plate, but Detroit's Niko Goodrum stayed put at third. Jeimer Candelario took off from second to third, then had to go back when he realized Goodrum was still there.

The throw went back to second, but Candelario was able to slide in safely. Holt went down with a right knee injury after Candelario's slide, although he was able to walk off the field.

Price struck out James McCann and retired Victor Martinez on a flyout to end the inning.

Goodrum led off the eighth by reaching on a strikeout when Barnes threw a wild pitch on strike three. Candelario then struck out, but strike three bounced away again. Candelario wasn't allowed to take first in that situation, but Goodrum was able to go all the way from first to third.

Nicholas Castellanos followed with a one-out grounder to third, and Goodrum was retired in a rundown between third and home.

"That's 100 percent going on contact - you have to go there," Gardenhire said. "We hadn't scored a run and we wanted to try to make something happen. Even if it doesn't work, we still have a runner on second, so it is worth the chance."

After a walk to Hicks, McCann struck out to end the inning.

BACK IN MOTOWN

Boston slugger J.D. Martinez was back in Detroit after playing for the Tigers from 2014-17. He was traded to Arizona around this time last year, part of a rebuilding effort in which the Tigers later traded Justin Verlander, Justin Upton and Ian Kinsler.

"It was inevitable. I think everybody knew it," Martinez said before the game. "You can only be good like that for so long."

Martinez made a fine catch in right field while running into the wall in the third.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Holt left with a bruised knee. ... LHP Drew Pomeranz (left biceps tendinitis) is expected to return Tuesday at Baltimore. ... Manager Alex Cora said 3B Rafael Devers (left shoulder inflammation) will be back and part of the roster Saturday.

Tigers: Detroit put RHP Michael Fulmer on the disabled list before the game with a left oblique strain, and Gardenhire said Fulmer will be "out for a while." OF Leonys Martin (left hamstring strain) returned from the DL and started.

UP NEXT

Boston LHP Brian Johnson (1-2) takes the mound Saturday night against Detroit RHP Mike Fiers (6-6).

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE