The Boston Red Sox today signed first baseman Mitch Moreland to a one-year contract through the 2017 season. To make room for Moreland on the 40-man roster, the club designated left-handed pitcher Williams Jerez for assignment.
President of Baseball Operations David Dombrowski made the announcement.
Moreland, 31, batted .233 (107-for-460) with 21 doubles, 22 home runs, 60 RBI, and 49 runs scored in 147 games with the Rangers in 2016, also earning a Rawlings Gold Glove Award at first base. He hit .277 (26-for-94) against left-handed pitchers, including .382 (13-for-34) with a 1.079 OPS after the All-Star break. Moreland was named American League Player of the Week for the period July 25-31, when he went 10-for-22 (.455) with five home runs and nine RBI. In 52 games from June 8-August 13, the left-handed batter hit .316 (48-for-152) with a 1.011 OPS, recording 14 of his home runs in that time.
With only two errors committed in 1,103 total chances at first base, Moreland led the AL with a .998 fielding percentage in 139 games (118 starts) at the position. It was the highest percentage among first baseman in Rangers history (minimum 100 games) and trailed Adrian Gonzalez by only .0001 for the major league lead in 2016. He finished the season with a 53-game errorless streak, and according to FanGraphs he ranked second among AL first basemen with seven defensive runs saved.
Selected by Texas in the 17th round of the 2007 June Draft, Moreland has hit .254 (633-for-2,496) with 110 home runs and 354 RBI in 773 major league games over seven seasons (2010-16), all with the Rangers. He has also played in 33 games in five trips to the postseason, and in 2010 he helped Texas reach the World Series by hitting safely in 13 of his 15 playoff appearances with a .348 batting average (16-for-46). In Game 3 of the 2010 World Series against the San Francisco Giants, his three-run home run in the second inning helped lead the Rangers to a 4-2 victory.
Jerez, 24, spent the entire 2016 season with Double-A Portland and was named an Eastern League mid-season All-Star. In a team-high 40 appearances with the Sea Dogs, the left-hander was 1-6 with a 4.71 ERA (34 ER/65.0 IP) and 65 strikeouts against 30 walks. Selected by the Red Sox in the second round of the 2011 June Draft, Jerez spent his first three professional seasons as an outfielder before converting to a pitcher prior to the 2014 season. Named the Red Sox' 2015 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, he is 10-11 with five saves and a 3.35 ERA (70 ER/188.0 IP) in 95 minor league appearances, all in relief.