Melvin Mora is still a pretty good third baseman, tied for tenth best in baseball in 2005 according to WARP. He enters his age 34 season with free agency looming. Mora set a deadline for today for the Orioles to work out a contract extension with him, but Orioles VP Jim Duquette is pretty much ignoring that. Reports say Mora wants $10MM annually, but there is no indication on a number of years.
Mora will make just $4MM in 2006, and he should be worth about twice that. He can only hope he ages like Jeff Kent, one of his top comparables according to Baseball Prospectus. Kent, so far, has been quite productive during his age 34-37 seasons, hitting .298/.362/.531 over 576 games. That included 115 HRs.
I wouldn’t say the Orioles and Mora’s agent are at an impasse yet, but one can at least envision a scenario in which Mora is placed on the trading block between now and July 31st. If the Orioles don’t want to hang on to him, they’d be wise to try to get some value before he leaves.
Here’s a rundown of teams that have questions at third base and could be looking reinforcements at some point. While it’s true that Mora is capable of playing outfield, we’ll stick to the hot corner.
Red Sox: They have the depth to cover a complete Mike Lowell collapse. But if the team wants to upgrade from Youkilis/Choi at the corners, Mora would add dependability. Of course, we all know that deals between division rivals are rare.
Twins: Michael Cuddyer still might be ready for Opening Day despite a strained oblique. He’s the fallback option for Tony Batista, assuming Jason Kubel and/or Lew Ford can handle right field. Batista isn’t off to a great start this year and he’s anything but a lock. Mora’s affordable salary would be attractive to Terry Ryan, though he’d have to part with some young pitching to him.
Braves: Moving Chipper Jones to first and acquiring Mora for third base would be a huge net gain for the Braves’ offense and defense. It would also help keep Chipper healthy. I don’t see it happening, but it’s worth noting.
Phillies: The Phils could really, really use a solid third baseman right now. The hot corner is easily the offense’s weak spot. There have been whispers that David Bell is mulling over retirement, according to Will Carroll.