As part of a chat with readers this week, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals have some interest in free agent first baseman Colin Moran. The 29-year-old hit the open market just before the lockout after the Pirates designated him for assignment in late November upon re-signing Yoshi Tsutsugo.
That served as akin to a non-tender, as Moran had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for a $4MM salary via arbitration. It seems unlikely he’ll land that amount in free agency. That’s particularly true in a post-lockout environment that might be unkind to free agents of Moran’s ilk, as it’s widely expected that there’ll be a hectic transactions spree as teams have a tight window to sort out their rosters before the start of the regular season.
Moran played almost exclusively at first base last season. The Cards obviously have Paul Goldschmidt locked in there, but it’s almost certain the next collective bargaining agreement will add a designated hitter to the National League. Most AL clubs have preferred to rotate bat-first regulars through the position to serve as quasi-rest days rather than devoting everyday DH duty to one player. Certain hitters (i.e. Nelson Cruz and Shohei Ohtani) have been so impactful offensively they’ve proven exceptions to that trend, although it’s likelier the Cards would eye Moran as a possible corner infield/DH rotation option than as an everyday player there.
Over the past four seasons, Moran has typically proven a capable but unexceptional hitter. He’s a .267/.329/.418 performer for his career, and he’s coming off a .258/.334/.390 mark over 359 plate appearances with the Bucs. That’s roughly a league average showing once one accounts for the extremely pitcher-friendly nature of PNC Park (by measure of wRC+) but it’s not the kind of impact offense teams would desire from an everyday DH.
While Moran played first last year, he does have plenty of prior experience at third base. Public metrics like Defensive Runs Saved and Statcast’s Outs Above Average panned his work at the hot corner, but a signing team could still view him as an emergency option at the position. Nolan Arenado is set to play third on a near everyday basis in St. Louis, but the front office could target Moran as a bat-first lefty complement to Arenado and Goldschmidt in the corner infield.
The Cardinals DH mix is understandably unsettled, with young players like Lars Nootbaar, Juan Yepez and perhaps top prospect Nolan Gorman set to factor into that mix. St. Louis also added bat-first utilityman Brendan Donovan to the 40-man roster to keep him from selection in the Rule 5 draft. Donovan is coming off an impressive high minors showing and could get an MLB look this year as well. There’s a chance one of those internal options proves worthy of regular playing time, but there’s enough uncertainty that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Cardinals pursue an affordable veteran bat like Moran once transactions resume. Old friend Brad Miller fits a similar bill on paper, but Goold adds that the Cards haven’t pursued him this winter.
Superstar Prospect Wander Javier
With the DH coming, I figured they would look for an under the radar move for a decent bat only guy. I thought they would be interested in JD Davis, but I guess Moran is a similar bat and they need more lefties.
Moran’s stats against RHP are considerably better than his stats against LHP. If the Cards deploy him strictly against RHP, they’ll have a solid bat. He is atrocious against LHP.
2021 vs RHP: .288/.352/.432. Can’t seem to find career splits, but looking at yearly splits and it is more of the same as his 2021 splits. Not sure why he is no longer needed in Pittsburgh with stats like that against RHP and the DH coming. I guess it is the anticipated monstrous salary of $4 mil.
Superstar Prospect Wander Javier
Yea, he has always been a major splits guy. Career .280/.341/.440 v .216/.281/.331. $4 million for a platoon DH is about $3.4 million more than they Pirates want to pay that guy.
Career against RHP 1133AB .280BA .341 .440 .781
LHP 278AB .216BA .281 .331
Not a big number of career AB against lefties Did have a decent 2019 but again limited # of AB
Pirates would rather have Yoshi. Moran can’t play anywhere but 1b. Pirates will use DH as a rest day. So nowhere for Moran. The 40 man is a issue. They have numerous players who need a major league look. And yes the 4 million is a factor but not much of one. Pirates aren’t a playoff contender so that 4 million is better off somewhere else. But if money was a major issue they wouldn’t sign Yoshi and Perez. Moran is a bench bat that can only play 1b.
Color me HUGELY underwhelmed by the idea, but totally unshocked, as this comes off as 110 percent a Mo-type cheap-arsed move.
Compared to who else is available, Moran has neither the positional flexiibility of a Jonathan Villar, nor the masher ability of a Schwarber etc. (I’m blogging about this for the start of next week..)
Lefties like Schwarber as a bat-only masher? Absolutely, I say https://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2022/03/yeah-about-pujols-and-that-nl-dh-and.html
Just sign schwarber… the cardinals already roster guys better than Moran. Sounds like another cheap alternative move from the STL front office.
Anyone else here agree with a trade centered around jack flaherty for Gavin Lux? Makes sense for both teams, but probably more so next offseason.
What is it you like about Lux? The .328 OBP or .364 slugging last year?
Neither… rather the fact that he tore up minor league hitting to the point where the only prospect ranked higher than him was vlad jr. Then consider the fact that he’s exactly what the cardinals are looking for as a high contact LH hitting middle IF with room to grow, as opposed to the bleak possibility of flaherty signing an extension in STL, and it kinda makes sense. But as I said, it makes more sense for something like that to happen next offseason after yadi and wainos last year, or possibly at the trade deadline if the cards are out of contention and the dodgers need SP. just a theoretical trade that I thought made sense for both sides.
I wouldn’t trade lux for flaherty if I’m the dodgers. Dodgers aren’t hurting for pitching enough to give up on lux and the extra 3 years of control beyond flaherty’s.
Plus who knows what kind of pitcher flaherty is? I’m not giving up Lux for 2020-21 flaherty, then hoping 2018-19 shows up.
Absolutely not, cardianls need to supplement minor league pitching depth for a Flaherty trade. They need at least one Libratore like arm for Jack Flaherty, and something else to sweeten the pot.
I’d take that too!
No, that’s a terrible trade for StL. Flaherty will likely be a tough extension candidate but not impossible. He would bring more than Lux
I dont think either team makes that trade. I think Flaherty is worth more but Lux isn’t being dealt for pitching.
Do you see Lux playing short for the Cards? The Dodgers don’t seem to envision him there. I can’t see trading Jack for a second basemen.
As far as Moran, I don’t see a fit there either. I would rather go with some combination of Yepez and Gorman to start the season. If both players show they aren’t ready to hit at the big league level, a guy like Moran can be found during the season.
If the Cards truly are going for a World Series title in 2022 like they’ve talked about for a while, they absolutely must keep Flaherty.
Moran? Maybe, but if Gorman, Yepez, etc. are going to get ABs this season, at some point you run out of roster spots. Of course, the IL and shuffling relievers between the majors and minors could help with this. I’m curious if a max number of minor league options per season will be part of the CBA.
tbh i don’t see my birds competing for much of anything in 22, we fired a good manger just to hire a yes man so mo can make out the lineup card.
Well, both things could happen.
I think edman could play a more than serviceable SS and have Lux at 2B. I think lux has more value than flaherty because of youth / control and he was a higher ranked prospect coming up. Flaherty was projected as more of a no. 2 or 3 starter and he has slightly outperformed those projections while also not being able to stay healthy for long. If it’s a straight up trade I think the dodgers say no. But add in an extra player or two from either side and I think it makes for a good trade to build on.
Exactly! He’s the lefty masher you want at DH for 2/3 of your games. Goldy gets a break and DHs against an occasional lefty pitcher, and ditto for Arenado, etc. And, then, STILL sign a true utility player better than Moran. I mentioned Villar above. Cards got a LOT of contract money coming off the books.
Schwarber, or if you feel the need to spend a few more $$, Rizzo’s anoter. https://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2022/03/yeah-about-pujols-and-that-nl-dh-and.html
I think Schwarber will get a bigger contract than Rizzo.
You could be right. That said, was this year past a peak for Schwarber? And, he still has the issue of much bigger splits than Rizzo.
At this point they might as well sign Carpenter back
Yeah right, Carpenter should have retired two years ago.
This is idea is no worse than the subset of the BFIB who want Phat Albert back ….
A capable but unexceptional hitter, to go along with his capable but unexceptional defense.
Why not just sign Matt Adams? Better defense at 1b, more power, and probably plays 3b just as well as Moran.
No team with plans of contending should sign Moran to a mlb contract.
He said Matt Adams …. dude, Moran is better. Big Mayo is Mayo Lite, has been in the minors as much as the majors recently and under .600 OPS three of the past four years.
And, who ARE the six people who upvoted this? Some of the Stable Genyuses amongst the Best Fans in Baseball(TM)?
If you took my comment as a serious suggestion to sign Matt Adams, you must be the stable genius. Others seem to have caught on pretty quickly.
I was just bringing up a similar player that most people would agree is barely worth discussing as a backup. Just like Moran. Not hard to find someone that can play a mediocre first, a terrible third, and have a sub 750 ops when things are going “well”
I’ll buy that. That SAID, there ARE on this thread who are serious about Carp. Or about Phat Albert. So, in context …. I took you seriously.
Haha. Fair enough, you’ve got a point on that one.
I thought suggesting adams could play a serviceable 3b in comparison to Moran put me over the top.
The only team he hits well against is us. Go after Schwarber or leave the DH spot open to Yepez, Noot and Gorman.
You’d rather have Carpenter? Your stockpile of Salsa must be getting low.
I’d rather have La Tortuga than both. At least then you stash him in the minors and could have Yepez, Gorman and Noot slug it out when ST Starts in May for the DH spot.
How older friend Pujols as a DH option?
God no. Cards need a lefty bat. That’s why I, and others, mention Schwarber (or one of the other lefty bats better than Moran that are still available). Phat Albert NOT needed.
Big difference in cost between the two, however, You can probably sign Moran for 3-4 mil over just one year, but Schwarbs is gonna want at least 60 over 3. No comparison, plus he should have several suitors.
Schwarber got $7M last year. He may (or may NOT) “want” 3/$60, but he ain’t getting close to that.
There’s other “lefty mashers” still out there, too. All of them better than Moran. https://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2022/03/yeah-about-pujols-and-that-nl-dh-and.html
Moran=Carp2.0, CarpLite, a low dollar signing that screams the Cards are building to be just good enough to make the postseason again…not a true contender! Might as well go ahead and bring up Alec Burleson or Connor Capel and save a few bucks.
Heh, it’s funny cuz that’s exactly what Moran is, CarpLite.
Moran to DH/1B against RH. Maybe spell Arenado once in a while at 3B. Not terrible if the price is low enough
Being a Brewers fan, Id love to see the Cards make that trade! Cards would be nuts to make that trade. Ain’t gonna happen.
stan lee the manly
It would be signing, not a trade. Moran was designated for assignment and is now a free agent
Looks like Mo is shopping at the discount rack in the back of the store again.
When shopping for bench help, you don’t pay starters money, unless you’re a fool.
Schwarber is not worth the price. No glove at all strictly a DH and with the plan to rotate others into the DH slot he is not what we need. Moran really isn’t either. We need a guy who can play some corner OF as well as 1b. Best thing about signing Moran is that he won’t be playing against us
Wrong. Schwarber would be a good low-cost signing, and you can still rotate others into the DH slot when you sit Schwarber against lefty pitching. And, on paper, Schwarber has played corner OF. Beyond that, no, they really DON’T need more corner OF. All three starters last year were above 110 OPS+ and they’re at least OK on backups.
This sounds like a marketing pr move. Pujols the final tour. Fans will love it. Pujols can still hit lhp and Moran can hit rhp. Sure you can find much better options but they won’t be as lucrative as Pujols. Or as cheap as Moran.
Decent hitter, but not the traditional power bat that has become typical of the DH position (or even 1b). He’s solid with the glove if the ball is hit at him, but there’s a reason that Buccos fans refer to him as Column Moran.
Seems like a nice enough guy, hope that he catches on somewhere.
If only the DH role really was a “traditional power bat.” Recently, DH performance has been about league average. As mentioned in the article, Cruz and Ohtani are about the only dedicated DHs in MLB these days. It’s largely become a half day of rest rotated among position players.
Yordan Alvarez, JD Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton, Austin Meadows, Khris Davis (before he couldn’t hit anything), Miggy (before losing his power)…can’t say that I agree with your assessment. There are a lot of designated DH’s who can’t play the field adequately and are in the lineup for power.
stan lee the manly
I’ll add Marcel Ozuna and what will be Castellanos
It should be noted that the Cardinals are also interested in art noveau, Thai cooking, and mid-20th Century Italian novels, any of which will have as much value to the 2022 Cards as Colin Moran.
I haven’t bothered to research the stats but fairly certain he hits .850 against the Cubs.
As a Pirates fan, I’ve seen plenty of Moran. If he’s put in a position to pinch-hit and occasionally start vs the right RHSP, he will be a productive player. If acquired to start, even in a true platoon, he will be exposed. Certainly not worth $4 million in today’s market.
Austin Meadows as mostly DH and capable of playing LF. The LH’er power bat needed to break up the RH’ed middle of the order the Cards play everyday.