The DH spot is regularly used by manager Ron Washington to give an everyday starter some time off from playing the field. And going into the 2014 season, the Rangers are planning to use a platoon at the offensive position, per columnist Drew Davison of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram in his late December article:
Daniels said the plan is to go with a platoon at designated hitter, with Mitch Moreland facing right-handers and Michael Choice or another right-handed bat against lefties. A caveat to that, Daniels said, is when manager Ron Washington uses the DH slot to give regulars a "mini" break.
Recently acquired outfielder Michael Choice has plenty of room to grow. Twenty-eight-year-old first baseman Mitch Moreland is yet to establish himself as an everyday starter. In fact, the Rangers trading for a first baseman this offseason, in Prince Fielder, exemplifies this.
Bringing in a player to fill the DH role for the Rangers wouldn't be a bad idea either. Yes, there was the failed Lance Berkman experiment in 2013, but he was much older than the prospective Morales. Notably, Boston Red Sox power hitter David Ortiz has made a career out of the position.
Enter the switch-hitting Morales.
In November, Morales turned down the Seattle Mariners' qualifying offer of $14.1 million for one year, per baseball insider Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. And per Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, a team would have to surrender a draft pick by signing Morales.
In his Dec. 19 article, he highlighted that Morales could potentially be a good fit, but that the Rangers were looking elsewhere at the time:
Morales appears to be a good fit for the Rangers (DH), Athletics (DH/first base), Pirates (first base), or even Brewers (first base), but each of those teams would need to give up a first-round draft pick. And those clubs seem to have other priorities at the moment.
Two days after Morosi's article, Shin-Soo Choo agreed to a deal with the Rangers. And more than a week later, Morales is still available.
As the days continue to grow for Morales, who doesn't have a new home yet, the price could drop on a new contract. He's 30 years old and is primarily a DH. That certainly won't make a team's mouth water. But he has power and is a switch-hitter, which means that the Rangers wouldn't constantly worry about playing the matchup.
Not having a guaranteed spot in the lineup could work one of two ways when platooning players. Either one player steps up or both players struggle without having a chance to get in a groove all season.
Morales could be the replacement in the lineup to former Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz. He could also find success in Texas much like Mike Napoli did, a once-tenured Los Angeles Angels player just like Morales was. Napoli hit for a batting average of .320 and 30 home runs in his first year in Arlington.
Could Morales replicate that? See if the embedded video reminds you of Napoli's high-flying home runs.
Morales spent six seasons with the Angels and hit 34 home runs in 2009. And in 2010, he had 11 home runs through 51 games before breaking his leg in a game-winning celebration. Morales bounced back by hitting 22 home runs in 2012 and 23 home runs with the Mariners in 2013. He also had a batting average over .270 in both of those years.
The bat is there. So what about Moreland and Choice?
As stated before, Choice is a great prospect who can make an impact in a year or so. But Moreland is excellent trade bait to lure in a starting or relief pitcher. The Pittsburgh Pirates, per Heyman on Twitter, and the Tampa Bay Rays, per staff writer Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times in a November article, believe that Moreland could be a good fit for their respective teams.
If there is one thing to be learned from this offseason, it's that Daniels is putting the Rangers in a position to be a contender for a long time. Morales should be the next target that can help them further compete, especially in October 2014.