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Padres decline Mitch Moreland’s option

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San Diego is choosing the $500,000 buyout over the 2021 salary for the first baseman.

National League Division Series Game 1: Los Angeles Dodgers v. San Diego Padres Photo by Kelly Gavin/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The offseason is officially underway for the San Diego Padres, and they’ve already made a move.

On Sunday, the organization announced that they had declined the 2021 option for first baseman Mitch Moreland.

By declining Moreland’s option, San Diego is agreeing to pay him $500,000 for a buyout. Had they picked up the option, they would have owed the veteran left-handed hitter $3 million for the upcoming season.

Moreland had a spectacular first half of the season while with the Boston Red Sox. He was one of the best hitters in baseball, slashing .328/.430/.746, good for a scorching hot 1.177 OPS and 1.2 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball-Reference, in just 22 games.

But once Moreland came to San Diego at the trade deadline, his bat cooled down. In 20 games with the Padres he hit just .203/.247/.362, for a .609 OPS and -0.2 Wins Above Replacement. He went 4-for-8 in the postseason with 1 double.

The Padres traded two prospects at the back of their farm’s top-20 for Moreland: outfielder Jeisson Rosario and infielder Hudson Potts. Given Moreland’s lack of production and the fact that he won’t be on the roster next year, they’re probably not feeling great about how the trade worked out, but it was a relatively low-risk move.

With the designated hitter going away in 2021, there wasn’t much of a spot on the roster for Moreland. That said, it’s still a risk to give up such a powerful bat on such a modest contract. The 11-year pro had a .835 OPS a year ago, and was an All-Star in 2018.