3:29pm: The Reds have now announced the signing of Moran to a one-year, Major League contract. He’s guaranteed $1MM on the deal, tweets Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.
2:10pm: The Reds appear to have agreed to a deal with corner infielder Colin Moran, as C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic tweets that there’s a locker setup for the now-former Pirates infielder in the Reds’ clubhouse.
Moran, 29, was selected by the Marlins with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 draft but never played in the big leagues with Miami. Traded to the Astros alongside Jake Marisnick and Competitive Balance draft pick in exchange for Enrique Hernandez and righty Jarred Cosart, Moran got only a pair of brief looks in Houston before being traded to Pittsburgh along with Joe Musgrove as part of the deal that sent Gerrit Cole to the ’Stros.
After a pair of early trades, Moran finally got a long-term look with the Bucs, where he’s spent the past four seasons as a fixture in the lineup. After struggling defensively as Pirates’ primary third baseman from 2018-19, he moved across the diamond to begin logging more reps at first base. Moran’s glove has been better there, but defensive metrics are still fairly bearish on his glove overall.
Through 444 games and 1527 plate appearances with the Pirates, Moran posted a .269/.331/.419 batting line with 44 home runs, 71 doubles and a pair of triples. Moran walked in 8.1% of his plate appearances as a Pirate against a 22.1% strikeout rate. By measure of wRC+ and OPS+, Moran was a league-average hitter in his four years with the Pirates, who non-tendered him this past November rather than pay him a projected arbitration salary in the $4MM range.
While Moran’s glove isn’t going to win any awards and he struggles quite a bit against lefties, he’s a .280/.341/.440 hitter in his career versus right-handed pitching. Cincinnati has lefties Mike Moustakas and Joey Votto at the infield corners, so Moran seems likelier to get in some DH work against right-handed pitching at perhaps serve as the occasional pinch-hitter. At times in the past, Moran has looked as though he might have another gear at the plate; his average exit velocity in 2020 was a hearty 91.9 mph, and he posted excellent barrel and hard-hit rates, per Statcast (13.4% and 43.7%, respectively). Those numbers trended back down toward his career norms in 2021, however.
If the move to a fourth organization — and, more notably, to a much more homer-friendly ballpark — helps Moran take his offensive production to a new level, he could help Cincinnati beyond the 2022 season. With four-plus years of Major League service time, Moran is controlled through the 2023 season via arbitration.
The addition of Moran comes just a day after Cincinnati inked former Giants second baseman Donovan Solano to a one-year deal. The Reds have stripped down what was a competitive roster in 2021 by waiving Wade Miley and trading Sonny Gray, Jesse Winker, Tucker Barnhart and Eugenio Suarez. While the Reds picked up a few prospects, the moves were made not in an effort to rebuild the farm so much as to simply cut payroll. GM Nick Krall opened the offseason by saying the team needed to “align payroll to our resources,” and rather than pursue the maximum possible return on Winker after an All-Star season, he was included in a package deal that was focused on shedding the remaining $35MM on Suarez’s contract.
Krall said yesterday that he’s now focused on adding to the roster, but it appears the Reds will mostly upgrade around the margins after subtracting several key players. Bringing Moran into the mix gives the team a recognizable name, particularly within the NL Central, and adds a competent platoon bat to the bench, but the current Reds roster looks quite a bit weaker than the one that finished the 2021 season at 83-79 and spent much of the season in the Wild Card hunt.