With a hole at first base, Mitch Moreland is the ideal fix. Now is the time to bring him into the fold and platoon him with Mr. National.
The 2020 platoon of Howie Kendrick and Eric Thames backfired and both players are now free agents after the team declined their respective options. Ryan Zimmerman is once again a free agent after sitting out last year, but if he doesn’t retire, he should be back on another one year deal. In the meantime, the Nats have a vacancy at first and should set their eyes on Mitch Moreland.
The 35-year-old had another successful season, spending time with the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres. With Boston and San Diego, he had 136 at-bats, hitting .265, with 10 homers, 29 RBIs, an OPS of .894, and a wRC+ of 135.
The 2016 Gold Glover is no longer the defender he once was, however, he still posted positive defensive metrics. He had one DRS and a .1 UZR. In his career at first base, he has 21 DRS and a UZR of 24.
In 2019, Zimmermans last full season in the majors, he appeared in only 52 games and hit.257, with six homers, 27 RBIs, an OPS of .736, and an 89 wRC+. In the playoffs that year, he was back to full health and hit the franchises first-ever World Series homer. Washington is the only home Zimmerman has known and he deserves a proper last hurrah.
Bringing back Zimmerman and signing Moreland is the smart decision for Washington. Moreland is a lefty power bat that the team desperately needs, but at his age, he would benefit more from not playing every night. Zimmerman has an extensive injury history and platooning the two of them will keep each of them well-rested.
Most importantly, Martinez can play matchup depending on who the opposing starting pitcher is. For example, against righties, Moreland is hitting .256, with 154 homers, and 472 RBIs. Where against lefties, Zimmerman is hitting .311, with 67 homers, and 257 RBIs. Zimmerman also has success against righties, hitting .268, with 203 homers, and 758 RBIs. Zimmerman’s versatility from both sides of the plate, plus Moreland’s power make both ideal candidates for the DH. That only works if the NL decides to keep that rule intact for 2021.
Both players would also offer an upgrade in protection for Juan Soto compared to last season. This was a major issue for the team in 2020. Teaming the two of them up would go a long way to fix the Nationals underwhelming offense.
Make it happen Mike Rizzo.