The Rangers have agreed to a deal with first baseman Mitch Moreland to avoid arbitration, as T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com first reported on Twitter. He’ll earn $5.7MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility.
With a hearing looming early today, the sides were apparently able to strike a last-minute arrangement. Moreland and his reps at RMG Baseball had filed at $6MM, with the team countering at just $4.675MM.
The ultimate settlement value, then, was well above the midpoint — an unusually big win for either side, especially a player. It comes in just above the $5.6MM salary projected by MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz heading into the season.
Moreland, 30, earned just $2.95MM last year after a tough 2014, but set himself up for a fruitful final pass through the arb process with a strong 2015 season. Over 515 plate appearances on the year, Moreland carried a .278/.330/.482 slash and added 23 long balls.
That’s not exactly setting the world on fire for a defensively-limited player, but it did make him a sturdy regular. With slightly above-average ratings at first base added to the equation, Moreland landed right at 2 WAR for the year.
With his final year’s contract on the books, Moreland will be playing for free agency. Barring a breakout of some kind, he has his limitations. He carries rather significant platoon splits and would be best deployed with a productive bench piece around to step in against southpaws. And Moreland’s strong power is not quite matched in the on-base department. When his BABIP fell to .255 in 2013, he was a below-average overall performer (95 wRC+) despite near-identical power output to last year’s effort (23 home runs, .206 ISO).
That’s not to say he won’t hold his share of open-market appeal, of course, as he once again showed he can be good overall contributor at the dish and does have a solid glove at first. Most importantly, he made 2014 — when his power fell precipitously and he dealt with ankle issues — seem like an outlier.