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How would Brandon Moss fit with the Indians?

How would Brandon Moss fit with the Indians?
Brandon Moss (Photo: AP)
December 5, 2014
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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?

The Good


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 MurphyRyan 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 KipnisMichael 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.

The Bad

The drop-off

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:

Apr 70 236 39 63 7 2 8 41 27 59 2 0 .267 .358 .415 .773
May 82 259 37 66 17 4 14 44 26 71 0 0 .255 .329 .514 .842
Jun 108 340 42 83 19 1 19 53 33 108 0 1 .244 .313 .474 .787
Jul 94 275 36 69 8 1 16 40 23 72 3 4 .251 .318 .462 .780
Aug 118 373 49 88 21 0 18 49 46 122 1 1 .236 .326 .437 .763
Sep 142 375 58 91 28 5 15 64 42 110 2 3 .243 .319 .464 .783
Oct 8 19 3 6 2 0 0 5 6 6 0 1 .316 .462 .421 .883

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:

Pre-AS 307 973 136 248 49 8 52 162 91 277 4 3 .255 .326 .482 .808
Post-AS 317 916 129 220 53 5 39 136 112 274 4 7 .240 .327 .437 .764

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.

User Comments

December 6, 2014 - 7:12 PM EST
Tribe signs Destin Hood. RF platoon option or does the org believe that he's ready to start? Kills LHPs.
December 6, 2014 - 5:15 PM EST
IF the hip I jury is that serious, will he be limited to DH/1b? Just a thought he may lose a step or two along with some flexibility with the injury.

Considering the situation, perhaps, Joe Wendle is not a bad return for the A's and its a position of depth for the Indians.
Armin Van B.
December 6, 2014 - 12:31 PM EST
I'm almost positive this Moss deal is not happening. This is taking way too long.
Jeff P
December 6, 2014 - 9:04 AM EST
Tondo, I agree, I think the hold up is our medical people are reviewing things. Possibly even conducting a pre trade exam of our own. He's injured right now, what you want to determine is that the injury isn't something that will end his career or something. Lessons learned from Jason Knapp I believe. Wendle is an insanely low price for a guy with an .840 OPS over the last 3 years, so the injury is clearly the factor
December 6, 2014 - 7:22 AM EST
I would prefer the return being a bat. Any one-for-one deal for a prospect not on the 40 and not named Lindor would be a good deal. The reason for the low price is his hip injury and it was reported that he might not be ready for ST, so any trade for him at this point is a gamble and lowers the price. Considering that the Tigers just paid two of their top10 prospects for a 26yo BOR, this would be one hell of a deal, even if Moss declines a bit.
December 6, 2014 - 12:19 AM EST
Do you think the hold up on the trade might be that they are trying to add more players into the deal? Could the indians try to include Murphy while eating some of his salary? Or throw in more prospects and land Samardzija?
If I were Antonetti I would be exploring all these possibilities since all they want for Moss is Wendle.
December 5, 2014 - 9:23 PM EST
Here's what John Sickels of had to say about Destin Hood formerly of the Nats farm system....

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:, 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.
Derka Derka Muhammad Jihad
December 5, 2014 - 7:37 PM EST
Tony is right. That article is just speculation. I don't see Cleveland dealing j ram -- he's the starting SS next year and there is really No one else ready or good enough for the job. If this isn't announced tonight I fear there is no deal, though. Clock is ticking!
December 5, 2014 - 7:23 PM EST
The deal may include Aguilar. Wendle and Aguilar for Moss makes sense. An Oakland beat writer reported that nobody on the 40 man was involved in the deal.
C L Who
December 5, 2014 - 6:49 PM EST
If Moss becomes an Indian, seems to me Jesus Aguilar will soon be on his way to another team.
December 5, 2014 - 6:31 PM EST
First ever post.... Tons of rumors floating around. I don't mind trading Ramirez or Wendle, plus a pitcher from the farm for Moss. Power hitters are too rare post-HGB. And it would show the fans you're trying to get over the hump. Do something to energize the fan base.
December 5, 2014 - 5:33 PM EST
Be careful what you read. That MLBTradeRumors piece from Stiglich is ALL speculation from writer talking about Ramirez, Gonzalez, House and Anderson.
Andy Moor feat. Carrie Skipper
December 5, 2014 - 5:21 PM EST
I don't see a deal getting done. This stuff was all reported on Wednesday night at first, if I recall. The longer we go w/o a deal, the less likely it is to occur. If this were such a perfect match, the deal would have already been made. Obviously there are some stumbling blocks at this point.
December 5, 2014 - 5:20 PM EST

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.
December 5, 2014 - 4:29 PM EST
I think at this point a deal is bound to happen. Too much momentum not to finish at this point. Both sides just need to iron out all the particulars.
December 5, 2014 - 3:42 PM EST
The longer this goes on the less likely this trade will happen.
Adam H
December 5, 2014 - 3:41 PM EST
If the Indians trade Jose Ramirez in this deal a jihad could be in order!! ;)
Canadian Joe
December 5, 2014 - 3:41 PM EST
Would sooner see them hang on to Ramirez, as he has some flexibility, and is MLB ready. Hope we don't end up overpaying on this deal.
John M
December 5, 2014 - 3:35 PM EST
As it is, however, I would have rather sweetened the pot a bit and got DONALDSON!
John M
December 5, 2014 - 3:21 PM EST
Wendle and Gonzalez probably fair trade for two years of a guy who is a 25-30 HR MLB hitter.
John M
December 5, 2014 - 3:19 PM EST
From mlbtraderumors:

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.
John M
December 5, 2014 - 2:58 PM EST
I wouldn't think Rios would only want a one year deal to "rebuild value." He's 34, I'm guessing he'll take the best and longest deal he can find with the most competitive team.

Indians may be one of his best options, and in a division of familiarity.
December 5, 2014 - 2:45 PM EST
Well I know of A-Rod Bo Jackson Josh Beckett and LaPorta that weren't the same after hip injuries Not knowing how Troy Tulowitzki will play and I find it curious his name as being mentioned in trade talks
December 5, 2014 - 2:43 PM EST
Are the Indians after both Moss and Rios? If both, the. Could they be planning on moving 2/3 Bourn, Swisher and Murphy? The Indians expressed interest in Rios is good news, I think he fits well with a short term deal and potential rebound candidate. His power lagged last yr, but, I would suggest it was the result of a nagging wrist injury. Rios is pretty durable and offers a decent RF with some good speed (15-20sb). I think he could sign for anywhere around 2/$16 to 2/$20. I wouldn't be against an option or third yr at the right price. However, Rios might want a one yr deal to rebuild his value.
December 5, 2014 - 2:15 PM EST
Hawk, you are in the minority. His production was on par to the previous 3 seasons until the hip injury. He has even admitted he played with the pain. And Kevin, you must have bumped your head to be willing to trade Kluber for a package highlighted by Bryant. If acquired this guy will help this team win by driving in runs. On top of that he offers protection for those around him.
December 5, 2014 - 1:21 PM EST
so, is losing Kevin Cash a big deal? It seems like he did very well with the pen last year.
December 5, 2014 - 12:46 PM EST
I must be in the minority I just don't get it. Adding a bat that tailed off in the second half of the season and coming off hip surgery adding to an already crowded roster
December 5, 2014 - 12:34 PM EST
@ GS I don't disagree. I do think that most "elite" power hitters have swing-and-miss in their game, because they are swinging for the fences. I have come to many of the same conclusions as you, but I still think he is a rare talent. Super imposing bat in the middle of the order to scare the lefties. I would give him an easy 25+ homers in his rookie year. However; I'm well aware that I'm just another speculative bystander hoping for a thrill in the offseason.
December 5, 2014 - 12:18 PM EST
Brandon Moss for Joey Wendle seems like a gift, a freaking coup, maybe it is, maybe it's not. Love Joe Wendle, he may prove to be a better hitter than Eric Sogard who is a fan favorite but can't hit. I respect Susan Slusser- she knows the game and is as inside as you're going to get when it comes to the A's, but if Bean does this deal he will have taken all the power out of his lineup- Cespedes, Donaldson, and Moss and gotten very little that I can see to replace it. It doesn't make sense. My prediction is the A's will have an ugly season, Bean will be gone after it. and the A's will move or be sold. If Moss is healthy and Wendle is involved, I would have to think there would be somebody else-Frazier and or Merritt and I would still be ok with it. Unless the docs are telling Billy, the hip repair is low percentage. As anyone who watched Bull Durham knows, the hips are key for a power guy.
December 5, 2014 - 12:05 PM EST
@Kevin.. Cubs fans have put their prospects on such a high pedestal, they have zero chance of ever meeting close to their expectations. Kris Bryant is no different.. KBryant has a LOT of swing and miss to his game.. He's not the defensive 3B you count on to be in the hunt for fielding bibles or gold gloves.... and is probably better suited to being a DH or C-OFer. He has a lot of power, and that's about the only thing about his game that would be considered elite...

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..
December 5, 2014 - 12:03 PM EST
I was referring to Walters not Wolters
December 5, 2014 - 11:52 AM EST
His bat looks pretty consistent to me, across the months of the season. Excepting May, his OPS is in range and his K-rate stays pretty consistent as well. Regardless of average, his on-base results look especially good.

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.
December 5, 2014 - 11:43 AM EST
Just a thought. If the guy is even remotely available i think Indians should deal anything (with the exception of Brantley) to get Kris Bryant, even Kluber. 3rd basemen, legendary right handed power bat, big league ready. Indians are over compensating trying to get Moss because they missed out on Donaldson.
December 5, 2014 - 11:32 AM EST
I believe hawk is referring to Z Walters, not T Wolters. Walters needs to spend some time in AAA anyway. He's not much of a prospect. Utility guy at best.
December 5, 2014 - 11:09 AM EST
Not sure why we are even worrying about Wolters and how he fits. He's not in play for next season.
December 5, 2014 - 11:02 AM EST
I am sorting through this and not sure how Wolters fits into the mix. With the addition of Moss Santana at first Swisher at DH and Murphy Raburn Wolters all on the roster it would appear as more moves are definitely needed This does not include Ramsey who we traded for because he was blocked in St Louis.

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