BOSTON -- In a move that takes them out of the bidding for one marquee free-agent hitter but doesn't preclude them from signing the other, the Boston Red Sox re-signed first baseman Mitch Moreland to a two-year contract, the team announced Monday.
Terms were not disclosed, but the deal is worth $13 million -- $6.5 million in both 2018 and 2019 -- plus as much as $1 million in incentives based on plate appearances, according to a major league source.
By bringing back Moreland, the Red Sox bowed out of the sweepstakes for free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer. But president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said the club could still add another full-time player to get at-bats as an outfielder and designated hitter, a description that might fit free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez.
"We still continue to feel that we have the opportunity to add someone else to our club from an offensive perspective," Dombrowski said during a conference call. "That won't be a first baseman. But we feel we have a DH -- that between Hanley [Ramirez] and if I could find someone else -- [and] outfield spots that would give us plenty of at-bats and opportunities for someone to contribute in a full-time fashion."
Dombrowski has prioritized adding a middle-of-the-order power hitter to an offense that finished last in the American League in home runs last season. He said he believes the Red Sox can still add that hitter without subtracting a player.
Moreland, 32, batted .246 with 27 doubles, 22 home runs, 79 RBIs and a .769 on-base plus slugging percentage in a career-high 482 at-bats last season. He started strong, with 12 doubles in the first month of the season, but faded through the middle of the season while playing through a broken toe.
"I don't like pointing fingers at things, but I know it didn't feel good," said Moreland, who also had minor surgery after the season to clean out a small meniscus tear in his left knee. "It didn't feel good trying to go out there and fight through something. That's who I am. I'm going to try to go out there and play. Whether the numbers show it or not, I'm going to try to go out there and give you everything I've got every day. It might have dipped a little bit, so I'm not planning on breaking my toe this year. Hopefully we can stay out of that."
Moreland said the Red Sox have not yet discussed specifics about playing time, although Dombrowski said the club could approach first base as it had intended going into last season. That plan would involve Moreland playing first base against right-handed pitchers and Ramirez playing against lefties while DHing the rest of the time.
Acquiring another hitter would seemingly cut into Ramirez's DH at-bats. But it also could help free the Red Sox from Ramirez's contract. A part-time role would likely prevent Ramirez from reaching the 497 plate appearances that he needs to kick in a $22 million vesting option for 2019.
The Red Sox were widely considered a potential landing spot for Hosmer. But he has never hit more than 25 homers in a season, likely a product of playing his home games in Kansas City's cavernous Kauffman Stadium but nevertheless leading the Sox to conclude that his power production wasn't dissimilar to Moreland, who represented a less expensive option.