Rangers, Mitch Moreland avoid arbitration with $2.65 million deal

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The Rangers and DH Mitch Moreland have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $2.65 million deal for the 2014 season, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds that Moreland can get an additional $25,000 each for reaching 470 and 525 plate appearances. Moreland was eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career. He is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.

With the acquisition of Prince Fielder in a trade with the Tigers back in November, Moreland has been pushed from first base into the DH role. He finished the 2013 season with 23 home runs and a .736 OPS in 518 trips to the plate.

ESPN’s Richard Durrett suggests manager Ron Washington could use the DH spot to get Fielder or third baseman Adrian Beltre off their feet from time to time, so Moreland may get the odd start at first base during the season.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.