Impending Free Agent Brandon Moss a Nice Fit for 2017 Yankees Lineup
Impending free agent first baseman Brandon Moss would be a low-cost safety net and platoon partner for some of the New York Yankees unproven young sluggers in 2017.
As with any rebuilding club, the New York Yankees have a number of question marks on their roster going into the 2017 season. The last few seasons their offense has been built around a core of established power hitters whose resumes could rival those most sluggers in the league, even if they were getting a little long in the tooth.
Next year, recent Yankees fixtures like Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran will be nowhere to be found, and it’s very possible that Brian McCann and Brett Gardner could also be missing as well if the recent trade rumors come to fruition.
It’s exciting to see the team handing key roles to promising talents like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, and Tyler Austin, but the truth is not all of those guys will work out like we expect. Some, maybe all, of those players will fail to achieve their potential. That’s just how prospects work.
Expecting Greg Bird to be the starting first baseman next year is especially dicey after missing the entire 2016 campaign following shoulder surgery. The team will hopefully get a brief look at him next month in the Arizona Fall League to see where he’s at, but that won’t be enough to say for sure how he will produce over a whole season.
Especially if the Yankees do end up trading Brian McCann this winter, they should consider bringing in a veteran power bat to solidify the middle of their lineup. The big names like Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Yoenis Cespedes are likely out of their price range, but one slugger who could replicate their production without a multi-year commitment is St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Brandon Moss.
Moss has bounced back from a sub-par 2015 to hit .239/.315/.513 with 25 home runs and 61 RBI in 400 plate appearances for the Red Birds. He did miss some time with an ankle injury, but it hasn’t seemed to impact his performance since his return.
One of the 32-year-old’s major selling points is his versatility. He’s no gold glover, but he has seen time at first base and both outfield corners for St. Louis. Even if the Yankees don’t move McCann, Moss could be an appealing bench player and platoon option.
It’s not clear Moss is suited for everyday at-bats at this point anyway. He held his own against southpaws this season with a .258/.324/.430 (103 OPS+) batting line, but is definitely does most of his damage against righties, hitting .233/.312/.542 (126 OPS+).
One potential sticking point is the qualifying offer. Moss seems like a distant possibility to receive one after his strong season. If he does, he may accept and not make it to the market. If he turns it down, the Yankees are almost certainly not going to give up a first round pick for a one or two year rental.
Assuming he doesn’t receive the QO, he only seems to be in line for a modest two-year contract because of his limited value in the field and on the basepaths. Jeff Todd of MLBTR thinks something between Chris Young’s $12 million guarantee and Mike Napoli’s $32 million is most likely, although he does note that a three year deal in the range of what Gerardo Parra or Denard Span got isn’t out of the range of possibility.
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Moss is a one trick pony, but it happens to be a trick the Yankees could sorely use. They shouldn’t break the bank to bring him in, but if he’s still hanging around looking for work in January, he seems like a potential bargain for them.