AL East Notes: Moreland, Jays, Hays

First baseman Mitch Moreland’s time with the Red Sox is on the verge of ending, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe suggests. The soon-to-be free agent is likely on his way out of Boston in favor of a “younger and cheaper” option, per Abraham, who lists Michael Chavis and prospect Bobby Dalbec as immediate possibilities. While Moreland’s position, age (34) and production won’t lead to a particularly lucrative trip to free agency, he’s not fretting about the open market right now. “It was bad the last two times I went into free agency and I came out of it with a job,” Moreland told Abraham. “I’m not really worried about it yet. I just want to enjoy this last week with these guys. It’s a great group. I’ll worry about the rest when I get there.” Moreland, who has earned $18.5MM on a pair of deals with the Red Sox since 2017, is finishing up an injury-limited year. He owns a .246/.325/.502 line with 18 home runs in 317 plate appearances thus far.

  • Blue Jays outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is out for the rest of the year with appendicitis, manager Charlie Montoyo told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet and other reporters. While Gurriel struggled during a truncated second half (he just came back from a month-long absence because of a strained left quad), this will go down as an encouraging season for the 25-year-old. Gurriel slashed .277/.327/.541 line and swatted 20 homers in 343 PA, and he acquitted himself decently in his first experience as a major league outfielder (minus-2 Defensive Runs Saved, plus-0.3 Ultimate Zone Rating).
  • Third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., yet another young Blue Jays building block, surprised over the weekend when he suggested via an interpreter he has never lifted weights. It turns out that isn’t the case, though. Guerrero clarified his prior remarks on Monday, telling Alexis Brudnicki of MLB.com and other media through an interpreter: “They wrote that I never lifted weights before. That sounds like ’before’ — never even in the Dominican, the States, with the team, and that wasn’t what I was saying. I was very clear, and I said that I never lifted weights in the offseason in Dominican Republic. I did a lot of other things, conditioning things, but weights at the gym, never did it before” (Sportsnet’s Arash Madani, whom Guerrero made his comments to last week, has the full transcript of their original conversation). Guerrero went on to state that he’ll add a weight program to his regimen this offseason in order to better prepare for the grind of a 162-game schedule. The 20-year-old has played in a professional-high 133 games between the majors and minors this season, including 120 with Toronto.
  • After a couple injury-ravaged years, it appears outfield prospect Austin Hays is working his way into the Orioles’ season-opening plans for 2020. Hays has only played a couple weeks in the majors this year, but he has made the most of it, as Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes. Indeed, with a .314/.364/.627 line and four home runs in 55 PA since his Sept. 7 call-up, the 24-year-old is “making a really strong case that he can play here,” manager Brandon Hyde told Melewski. It’s not just Hays’ marvelous late-season offensive production that has turned heads, though, as Hyde noted “he’s shown us that he can play center field defense.”