The Mariners have agreed to a minor league contract with free-agent corner infielder Colin Moran, reports Kiley McDaniel of ESPN (Twitter link). He’ll be invited to Major League Spring Training.
Moran, 30, spent the 2022 season with the Reds after signing a one-year deal in early March. Cincinnati, however, cut the former Astro and Pirate loose after he appeared in 42 games and posted a lackluster .211/.305/.376 batting line in 128 plate appearances.
In parts of four seasons with the Pirates (2018-21), Moran was a roughly average hitter, turning in a combined .269/.331/.419 batting line with 44 home runs, 71 doubles and a pair of triples in 1527 plate appearances. At times, particularly in the shortened 2020 season, it’s looked as though the former No. 6 overall draft pick might have more in the tank.
Moran posted a massive 91.9 mph average exit velocity in 2020 and put a whopping 47.2% of his batted balls in play at 95 mph or more. He belted 10 home runs in just 200 plate appearances that season and posted career-best marks in slugging percentage (.472) and ISO (.225). That now looks like an outlier, however, as his batted-ball data since that time has fallen back in line with his solid but unspectacular career rates.
The Mariners have a pair of right-handed-hitting corner infielders in third baseman Eugenio Suarez and first baseman Ty France. Both rank among the Mariners’ most productive hitters and are likely to be in the lineup regardless of matchup, but Moran could feasibly make the club as a bench option and spell either in the case of injury or on days where the Mariners want to load up as many lefties as possible against a right-hander with particularly pronounced platoon splits. He could also step into the lineup at designated hitter from time to time.
Moran has been primarily a first baseman and designated hitter over the past two seasons, but he has more than 2000 career innings at the hot corner and has still spent more time there than anywhere else on the diamond. If he doesn’t crack the Opening Day roster and if his deal doesn’t contain a spring opt-out (relatively common for veterans of this status), he could head to Triple-A Tacoma and give the Mariners some depth.