The Pirates announced Monday night they’ve designated first baseman Colin Moran for assignment. The move clears space on the 40-man roster for Yoshi Tsutsugo, whose previously reported one-year deal has been made official.
Moran’s spot on the roster looked tenuous once Pittsburgh agreed to terms with Tsutsugo. General manager Ben Cherington has already indicated the Pirates viewed Tsutsugo primarily as a first baseman. While Moran broke in as a third baseman, he’s played almost exclusively at first over the past two years — particularly since the Bucs broke in highly touted youngster Ke’Bryan Hayes at the hot corner late in 2020. There wouldn’t seem to be room on the roster for two left-handed-hitting first basemen. Even if the National League adopts a designated hitter in 2022, teams have generally preferred to cycle multiple players through that position unless they have an elite bat to plug in at DH everyday.
Moran’s a capable hitter, but he’s not a middle-of-the-order presence. He’s coming off a .258/.334/.390 showing in 359 plate appearances. That’s roughly league average production, right in line with Moran’s overall numbers. He’s a career .267/.329/.418 hitter in parts of six seasons — the past four of which have come as a regular in Pittsburgh.
MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Moran for an arbitration salary in the $4 million range. Monday’s designation functions as something of an early non-tender, although it’s possible another club swings a trade before Tuesday’s non-tender deadline. If Moran passes through waivers unclaimed, he’ll have the right to elect minor-league free agency.