How would Brandon Moss fit with the Indians?
The Indians may be on the verge of adding a big bat to the lineup.
According to several reports, the Cleveland Indians are in talks with the Oakland A’s to acquire first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss. Oakland is looking to upgrade their minor league system and rebuild their roster, as was confirmed by trading Josh Donaldson. The next chip that they are flaunting is Moss.
The Indians have the shallow pockets of Antonetti as a rival, so reloading their roster will likely have to come through moves like this. It is still unclear what the price would be for Moss, but the Indians have built a good amount of depth in their farm system that could be used to make a deal like this happen. A report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Gate said the A's are targetting infielder Joe Wendle.
While Moss sounds like a great pickup on paper, is he really a good fit for the Indians?
When looking at Brandon Moss, the first thing that jumps out at you is his power. He’s a big-bodied man who has some significant pop to his swing. Power has become a hard-to-come-by commodity in the MLB, and he’s smashed 21-30-25 in his last three seasons, respectively. Moss racked up 21 home runs and 66 RBI before the All-Star break last season and was named to the All-Star game.
Over his past three seasons he has 76 home runs and 220 RBI while hitting .254 in 1,211 at bats. This gives him a home run in one out of 15.93 at bats, which is 9th in the majors during this span.
The Indians really lack a feared power hitter and having Moss would certainly fix that. Having a three-four-five of Michael Brantley, Brandon Moss and Carlos Santana (or Yan Gomes) would surely jack up the offense for the Tribe.
While Moss is not an elite defender by any means, he is definitely an upgrade at first base. This is not his only position as he also played left and right field for the A’s last season. While left field is occupied by the elite talent of Michael Brantley, right field was a disaster last season for the Tribe. David Murphy, Ryan Raburn and the occasional minor leaguer was not a great combination.
The Indians have the luxury of having Carlos Santana and Nick Swisher both able to play first base. They also gave Lonnie Chisenhall some time there last spring, but they should avoid this going forward. Moss would statistically be the best defender out of this group both in right field (only three errors in 161 starts in right), though Santana was better at 1B with a .995 fielding percentage in 94 starts.
Francona loves having utility-type players who can play multiple positions. Last season, the only full-time players to start at only one position were Jason Kipnis, Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera. This shows that Tito loves to rotate guys to keep fresh bats in the lineup. Moss is another utility-type guy who started at four different spots for the A’s last season.
The Indians could have Moss start in right field and rotate occasionally with Swisher or Murphy, who had a .986 fielding percentage. Santana can start at first base and rotate with Moss and Swisher occasionally to keep their bats in the lineup. Swisher could be the full-time DH where he can focus on getting his swing back into his 20+ home run form.
As was displayed by the Josh Donaldson trade, the A’s might have low price tags on their players right now. Donaldson was certainly better than the yet-to-perform Major League prospect and minor leaguers that they received for him, and the same type of deal could happen with Moss.
After trading Justin Masterson and Asdrubal Cabrera last season, as well as the development of their own draft picks, the Indians have accumulated a deep group of minor league talent. While few guys in their farm system are considered top-tier prospects, they possess many good ones who could develop into difference-making players.
This is the type of price that the A’s are seeking; minor league depth that will help them retool for the future. Jose Ramirez could be the feature piece of a deal, but even he might be more value than the Indians need to deal.
Acquiring a talent like Brandon Moss while keeping their top prospects intact would be a fantastic deal for the Tribe.
After banging 21 home runs early in the season last year, Moss suffered a significant drop-off following the All-Star break (4 home runs, 15 RBI, .173 AVG). It was later discovered that he was playing through a hip injury for an extended period of time, which was surgically repaired this past October. He says that he will definitely be ready for spring training, but being out of commission for that long would likely set back any player.
Trading for a guy who fell off the map so drastically could be a risk. The last thing that the Indians need is another David Murphy; a guy who hits hot to start the season, but does nothing to help the club down the stretch. The Tribe needs to build a group that will keep them in the mix through September, and it’s fair to wonder if Moss is that kind of player.
This wasn’t the first drop-off of Moss’ career. Look at his month-by-month numbers for his career:
With the exception of a few October games, Moss has a history of starting the season strong and progressively dipping, especially in average. This is even more dramatic when you break it down as pre vs post All-Star:
An unpredictable bat
This is an interesting case here with Moss. Sure, he’s another left-handed bat on a team that is loaded with them. But this doesn’t really mean anything definitively; he’s historically good against a different side each season. In 2013, he hit 26 home runs and .268 against righties (366 ABs) while hitting only .200 and 4 home runs against lefties (80 ABs). In 2014, Moss hit 21 home runs at just a .228 clip (413 ABs) against righties, but he raised his average against lefties to .264 in 87 ABs (still only 4 home runs, though).
While this proves that his power comes against right-handed pitchers, understandably, his average is largely unpredictable from either side of the plate. This could bode well if he can get on base no matter who is pitching, but this could also mean disaster if he struggles badly against right-handed pitching, where his power depends on.
At the end of it all, Brandon Moss would be a pretty low-risk pickup for the Indians. The cost is low and the competition in right field is minimal. His bat would provide a spark to the Tribe lineup and his fielding would surely improve on the Indians 2014 right field performance. The Indians should jump at the opportunity to bolster their lineup at this low price.
Considering the situation, perhaps, Joe Wendle is not a bad return for the A's and its a position of depth for the Indians.
If I were Antonetti I would be exploring all these possibilities since all they want for Moss is Wendle.
Hood is a 6-1, 225 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born April 3, 1990. A second round pick in 2008 from high school in Mobile, Alabama, Hood is a tools player who struggled with plate discipline in the low minors, but took a big step forward in '11. He hit .276/.364/.445 with 13 homers, 21 steals, and 58 walks in 463 at-bats for High-A Potomac, setting career-bests in most categories. He also dramatically improved his defense and his baserunning. Hood will move to Double-A this year and if he maintains his progress he could be a regular outfielder eventually. He was a raw athlete a year ago, but is much more of a genuine baseball player now.
The above commentary was cited from: minorleagueball.com, online: 12-5-14.
Hood is a player I suggested the Indians might have interest in a few yrs ago in the rule 5 draft. Hood is a former football player turned baseball player. He's toolsy, some speed, some power and a good arm. He reminds me a bit if Moncrief, but, I think he's better than Moncrief offensively.
There is speculation Rios might go for a 1yr deal looking to establish better value in the future. If he has a big yr or better yr he might be able to score a better deal.
DEC. 5: The two sides have yet to reach a deal but have discussed shortstops Jose Ramirez and Erik Gonzalez in addition to Wendle, reports Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area.
Indians may be one of his best options, and in a division of familiarity.
No deal..unless it's Bryant and Soler and CJ Edwards and one more player for Michael Brantley.. otherwise.. that's nothing more than biting down HARD on the prospect-hood of Kris Bryant.. That should remain a Cub Fans' tradition..
I think the biggest question on Moss is his health and related age/performance. He isn't hugely costly though and it is only a two year commitment (if I recall correctly), so that is OK.
I see this a deal with potentially big upside and little downside, assuming the prospect deal really is centered on Wendle especially.