For the past several days, the Cleveland Indians have been actively engaged in talks with the Oakland Atheltics regarding All Star OF/1B Brandon Moss, according to multiple reports.
On the Indians’ side of the deal, things are a little bit more unclear. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has reported a link between Oakland GM Billy Beane and Class-AA second baseman Joe Wendle. However, the A’s will likely need more value for Moss than Wendle alone. Moss is not eligible for free agency until the conclusion of the 2016 season.
What the Indians are getting in Brandon Moss is not a sure thing by any means, but it could end up being exactly what they are looking for. In parts of 8 MLB seasons, the 31-year old has split time between the corner outfield positions, first base, and designated hitter. Conveniently, right field and DH are both places for improvement for the Tribe.
At the moment, right field is occupied by a mishmosh of David Murphy, Ryan Raburn, and Tyler Holt, with Murphy likely filling in the starting role. Murphy did not have an awful season in his first year with the Tribe, but he has a clear and defined ceiling when it comes to his ability, and his role might be best suited to the first guy off the bench. Moss, who has a ceiling of 30 home runs, should not have much of a problem with improving on the offensive production from right field.
While he has played at the MLB level since 2007 for 4 different clubs, Moss has never experienced anything close to the success he had with Oakland. Before Moss found his home on the Bay, he had never hit more than 8 home runs in a single season. He blew away that mark with the A’s, slamming 21 home runs in 2012, 30 in 2013 and 25 in 2014. Moss also has some solid run production to go along with that power, driving in over 80 runs each of the past two seasons.
One cause for concern is Moss’ sharp drop off towards the tail end of the 2014 season.
Heading into the All Star Break, Moss found himself tied for 5th in the AL in home runs while sporting a slash line of .268/.530/.878 (BA/SLG/OPS). The second half of the year was a different story.
A result of a .169 average in August and a .151 showing in September, Moss saw his slash line drop to .234/.438/.772 by the conclusion of the season. What may have been even more distressing is his abrupt drop off in power production. 21 dingers and 66 RBI’s before the All Star Break translated into a 4 HR/15 RBI performance in the remaining part of the season. It should not be too much of a surprise to learn that the A’s suffered one of the largest collapses in recent memory during that time span.
To top off a disappointing finish to the season, Moss underwent hip surgery on Oct. 12, but should be back well in time for Spring Training.
Moss, like the rest of the Oakland Athletics, will likely want to forget anything and everything that happened in the late summer of 2014, and a move to Cleveland might be just the thing to help him do that.
The veteran should fit right into the clubhouse and should connect well with Manager Terry Francona (but, then again, who doesn’t?) Moss played under Tito during his first two seasons in the league with the Boston Red Sox back in 2007 and 2008.
On the field, Moss could be just the guy that the Indians need to elevate the club to the top of the AL Central. With Moss plugged into the starting lineup, the Indians will feature 4 different players who knocked 20+ home runs and 70+ RBI in 2014. Just remember that this stat was compiled during down years from Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis, both of whom are capable of reaching the 20 HR/70 RBI plateau.
Moss may not be the right-hander that fans have been clamoring for, but here is the bottom line: power is power, regardless of which side of the plate it comes from.
The Indians could be finally close to acquiring that “power bat” that #IndiansTwitter is so often yearning for, and he seems to be a fine fit for the Tribe’s system. His versatility between 1B, DH and RF will be put to use, especially with Swisher coming off of such a down year.
Hoynes reports that a trade is expected to go through on Friday.
By Jay Cannon
Stats are courtesy of BaseballReference.com
Photos are courtesy of www.UTSanDiego.com and fantasyCPR.com