MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Moss a great fit in Tribe lineup, clubhouse

Slugger could boost middle of order, help Cleveland to playoffs

Moss a great fit in Tribe lineup, clubhouse

SAN DIEGO -- As much as the Indians might like this trade today, they're probably going to like it even more next summer. Aren't those the best kind?

First, Brandon Moss is a nice fit in the lineup. That's the easy part to figure out after the Indians acquired him from the A's for Minor League infielder Joe Wendle on Monday.

Moss has averaged 25 home runs the last three seasons, while averaging just over 400 at-bats. He has drawn 143 walks in that time, and so that .844 OPS will upgrade a Cleveland offense that was seventh in runs last season in the American League.

This is the kind of trade a team makes when it believes it's on the threshold of the postseason.

The Indians qualify. Corey Kluber won the AL Cy Young Award at the front of a nice rotation. Cleveland's bullpen is excellent thanks both to an array of quality arms and a manager, Terry Francona, who utilizes a relief corps as well as anyone.

The Indians aren't perfect, but in an era when there are no perfect teams, they were within four games of first place in the AL Central on Sept. 11.

Moss gives Francona flexibility in a bunch of areas. His playing time in Oakland was divided between first base (60 games), left field (53) and right field (32) last season, and he played them all adequately.

Moss will allow Francona to play the matchup game. If Nick Swisher recovers from surgery on both knees, Francona can stack some serious power in the middle of his lineup.

And then there's the other part of this trade, the part that's harder for those of us on the outside to describe. Moss is going to be a terrific fit in the clubhouse and in contributing to the environment. Cleveland has plenty of that already with Michael Bourn, David Murphy and others.

Moss doesn't have Swisher's outgoing personality, but he will be one of those rock-solid guys who plays well through a long season of inevitable ups and downs.

Moss' own story is inspirational. He bounced through the Red Sox, Pirates and Phillies trying to establish himself. Three years ago, Moss was 28 years old and looking at the end of the baseball road. He'd begun to consider a career as a firefighter.

That's when the Oakland A's telephoned and offered him a contract. Moss figured he'd give it one more shot. The A's saw something in him no one else had, and he ended up being an important contributor on three straight playoff teams.

Now, as A's general manager Billy Beane shuffles the deck and seeks a new combination, Moss is in a far different place. He'll be the first to tell you that he will always be appreciative of the A's for believing in him.

Moss has been close enough to washing out that he appreciates everything he has gotten these last three seasons. His quiet enthusiasm, his work ethic, the whole package, is likely to have an impact on those around him.

The Indians already felt good about the foundation they had in place, and they went into this offseason hoping to add an impact bat and a starting pitcher.

Moss is that bat, and now Indians general manager Chris Antonetti will shop through the starting-pitching market. He's more likely to allow the free-agent market to settle down and to see if there's a January bargain out there.

Even if they do nothing else, the Indians feel good about where they are today and what they're capable of doing in 2015. They were already close. Moss gets them a bit closer.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.