Can Padres do better than Mitch Moreland in 2021?

(Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /

It’s been a busy week for Padres general manager AJ Preller, but he did indicate that Mitch Moreland is in the team’s plan for 2021, assuming one thing.

One of the best elements of the COVID-shortened season was the DH’s inclusion in the National League. But it remains to be seen whether the MLB and MLBPA will agree to continue the new tradition before the league’s CBA expires at the end of next season. The implementation of the DH provided the Padres with so much flexibility, allowing them to get a longer look at guys like Edward Olivares, Jorge Ona, and Francisco Mejia.

Neither of those three guys appears to be part of the immediate future, which is exactly why Padres’ general manager acquired Mitch Moreland from the Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline. In exchange, San Diego sent Hudson Potts in the deal.

But it was far from smooth-sailing for the 35-year-old. After hitting .328 in 22 games with Boston, Moreland only hit .203 in 20 games with the Padres. His production took a hit in the pitcher-friendly Petco Park, batting just .186 in his new home ballpark.

For reference, he hit .342 in the hitter-friendly Fenway Park this year, which could leave his future with the Padres in question. He has a very inexpensive $3M club option for next season, which might seem like a no brainer to pick up.

Over a small sample size, Moreland hit .500 (4-for-8) in 4 games split between the NLWC and NLDS. And according to Padres general manager AJ Preller, he appears to be in their 2021 season plans. But that’s also assuming that MLB keeps the DH in the NL.

"Mitch Moreland has a $3 million option for next season, and Preller suggested that the team views Moreland as a piece for ‘21. But Preller also noted that the Padres first want clarity regarding whether the designated hitter would be used by NL teams, as was the case in ’20. – Cassavell"

Playing devil’s advocate, if the league reverts to the pitcher batting in 2021, where does Mitch Moreland play? Eric Hosmer had a terrific season, and he’s firmly planted at first base. I suppose, under this scenario, a strong argument could be made that the Padres should acquire another bat in the offseason-one that can potentially play in the outfield.

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Perhaps Yasiel Puig? Just one example, of course, but a power-hitting bat who can play the field.

The Padres will have five days after the conclusion of the World Series to pick up Moreland’s option.