4:48pm: It’s not entirely clear whether it’s related to the possible Moreland chatter, but the Rangers are interested in young Bucs backstop Elias Diaz, Sullivan reports (Twitter links). But Pittsburgh is “not motivated” to part with the 25-year-old.
12:35pm: The Rangers and Pirates will meet in Nashville to discuss a possible trade that would send first baseman Mitch Moreland to Pittsburgh, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reported earlier this morning that a Moreland trade was unlikely, but it such a deal occurred, the Rangers would need to get a starting pitcher in return (Twitter link).
The 30-year-old Moreland had one of his best seasons in 2015, batting .278/.330/.482 and tying his previous career-high of 23 home runs. Minor elbow surgery early in the season (removal of bone spurs) limited Moreland to just 132 games and 515 plate appearances, but he showed no ill effects at the plate after returning from the disabled list in mid-May.
Moreland has long struggled against left-handed pitching, and while he was a bit better in 2015 (.681 OPS), a platoon partner is probably required to maximize his efficiency. The Pirates seemingly have such a player in house in the form of Mike Morse.
Moreland is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5.6MM next season in what will be his final year of club control before reaching free agency. That makes him somewhat of a short-term solution at first base for Pittsburgh, though the club may not need much more than that. Top prospect Josh Bell, whom Pittsburgh hopes can be the first baseman of the future, batted .317/.393/.446 last season between Double-A and Triple-A. He only logged 32 games at Triple-A, and the Pirates have a history of waiting until June to promote their top prospects anyhow, but it’s certainly conceivable that he could be ready to handle first base for the Buccos sometime next season, and certainly by 2017.