Gritty Moreland finds new home with Red Sox

First baseman signs one-year deal in Boston and will start vs. right-handed pitching

Gritty Moreland finds new home with Red Sox

BOSTON -- Mitch Moreland is best known for his grit, which will make him a perfect fit for the Red Sox's infield. The team announced the signing of Moreland to a one-year, $5.5 million contract on Thursday.

Through the years, Boston fans have loved the players who display a burning passion on a nightly basis, which means they will likely take to Moreland in short order.

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"He's always had a reputation of a gamer," Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. "I know when I was with the Tigers, one of our scouts, Dick Egan, was always telling me we have to get Mitch Moreland. He's a player, a competitor, a gamer, a winner. I came here and the guys told me the same thing. So we love his makeup."

Dombrowski on Moreland

Moreland will play first base -- where he won the American League Gold Glove Award in 2016 with the Rangers -- against right-handed pitching for the Red Sox. Hanley Ramirez will serve as the primary designated hitter in place of the newly retired David Ortiz. Ramirez will likely see some time at first against left-handed pitching while manager John Farrell uses the DH slot to mix in other players.

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"We feel this is a very good fit in a number of ways," said Farrell.

Moreland -- who was at Fenway Park on Thursday -- couldn't agree more.

Farrell likes versatile Moreland

"I'm super excited," Moreland said. "I've always been a fan of Boston, the fans, the background, history of the team. Playing against them is just a fun atmosphere to be in. To be on the home side of it and have the fans cheering for us makes it that much more fun. It's a place I've always felt comfortable. I'm looking forward to getting out there. Just seeing the field today, I wish the season started tomorrow."

The Red Sox had prioritized adding a left-handed hitter this offseason, but the club needed to know how much money it would be spending on a setup man before deciding if it could sign Moreland.

After the acquisition of right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers, Dombrowski quickly turned his attention to Moreland, even as he was in the middle of finalizing the blockbuster trade for Chris Sale.

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"First of all, he's a good player," said Dombrowski. "Provides good defense and good offense. He's an outstanding defensive player. A left-handed hitter which we were searching for."

The 31-year-old Moreland hit .233/.298/.422 with 22 home runs and 60 RBIs in 147 games for the Rangers in 2016. His best season was '15, when he had an .812 OPS to go with 23 homers and 85 RBIs.

If Moreland can develop more of an opposite-field approach, his numbers could improve playing at Fenway Park.

"I felt like I could fit in here and move forward and try to help out and make that goal happen of winning a championship," said Moreland. "That's the main goal, as far as playing this game for me. I feel like we've got a great opportunity here. I felt that way before the Sale news broke, too. So seeing that also, it just shows you we're in it. We're in it and trying to go all out to make that happen. I'm happy to be a part of it."

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)

With more than 20 round-trippers in three of the past four seasons, Moreland has the necessary power to impact 15-team mixed leagues as part of Boston's high-scoring lineup.

Fantasy owners should expect the first baseman to work on the heavy side of a first-base platoon on the merit of his lifetime .778 OPS against right-handers (.673 vs. lefties). Moreland should also help minimize the physical strain on Ramirez -- who has appeared in more than 130 games in just two of the past six seasons -- by prompting the Red Sox to regularly use Ramirez as their designated hitter. Owners should be willing to use an early-round pick on Ramirez after he hit .286 with 30 home runs and 111 RBIs last season.

Moreland's fantasy impact

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.