Instead of entering spring training with a fight for the first-base job, the Boston Red Sox re-signed Mitch Moreland to a one-year contract for the 2020 season, with a club option for 2021, the team announced Tuesday.
The deal is worth $3 million guaranteed, with a $2.5 million salary in 2020 plus a $3 million club option with a $500,000 buyout, according to a major league source.
Moreland's signing brings the Red Sox's bottom-line payroll to around $236 million, far exceeding the luxury-tax threshold of $208 million. Team owner John Henry has expressed a desire to cut salary and get under the luxury-tax threshold, but recently told The Boston Globe that was the "goal" and not a "mandate."
In order to clear space on the 40-man roster, Boston designated right-handed pitcher Denyi Reyes for assignment.
The Red Sox have had a relatively quiet transactional offseason, despite the trade rumors around outfielder Mookie Betts and the other drama surrounding the team. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom continues his search for a manager after parting ways with Alex Cora following MLB's investigation into the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scheme, but little has come from the Fenway Park offices regarding the search, with no publicly discussed names of managerial candidates.
Meanwhile, MLB continues its investigation into whether the 2018 Red Sox used video to decipher opponent sign sequences and passed the information to their players, as alleged in a report by The Athletic. Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez has said he believes the team will be cleared in the investigation and that "there was nothing going on here."
By bringing back Moreland, the Red Sox sign a two-time Gold Glove winner who served as an important mentor for young third baseman Rafael Devers.
Moreland has spent the past three seasons with Boston, hitting .252/.328/.507 with 19 homers and 58 RBIs in 91 games last year while missing time with multiple injuries. He also played a big role in the Red Sox's run to the World Series title in 2018, when he hit .294 with an .898 OPS in 11 playoff games. In his 364-game Red Sox career, Moreland has hit .247/.326/.455 with 56 homers and 205 RBIs, averaging 19 homers a year.
Moreland has mostly faced right-handed pitching while with Boston, and he could serve in a platoon with Michael Chavis or Bobby Dalbec.