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Logan Morrison might be an undervalued first base option

LoMo had a great 2017, but can he continue his success?

Tampa Bay Rays v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

It has seemed more and more likely that the Mets are intent on finding a starting first baseman this offseason. Between Lucas Duda’s departure and Dominic Smith’s poor play during the second half of the year, there’s a clear need at the position. The Mets could do worse than signing Logan Morrison, but there is definitely some risk involved.

Entering his age-30 season, Morrison is coming off a career year with the Tampa Bay Rays in which he hit .246/.353/.516 over 149 games. He had an eye popping 130 wRC+, 38 home runs, and 3.3 fWAR. His 1.2 UZR suggests that he is a capable, if average, defensive option.

What’s tricky about players coming off career years is the susceptibility to regress to the mean, and while LoMo had a very nice 2017, there’s not too many reasons to suggest that this type of play is repeatable. Morrison credits his successful season as a result of pulling the ball more and trying to put it in the air, a technique that is being emulated more and more throughout the majors. As a result, his success was driven largely by the long ball.

When you compare this with his previous year’s performances, its tough to ignore that Morrison has largely been a mediocre player who owns a career line of .245/.330/.433. If he has suddenly “figured it out,” then that would be a major boost for the Mets, but at age 30, its reasonable to have some doubt about how he’ll play over the next few seasons.

In a lot of ways, Morrison does feel like the kind of ‘Mets-ian’ free agent target that would be of interest to Sandy Alderson this winter. He’s not necessarily the marquee name available on the market, so he will likely net a smaller contract than say Carlos Santana or Eric Hosmer would. MLBTR predicts that he’ll command a three-year, $36 million contract, certainly worth it if he plays anywhere similar to the way he did in 2017, but not if he is playing towards his career average. He fits the mold of the 1B/OF type player the Mets are looking for, though the majority of his outfield experience came when he was younger. Given his defensive abilities at first base, he’s probably best suited for the outfield on an emergency basis.

Morrison has shown that he has the potential to be great, but when you consider the player he’s been, its tough to see the Mets making that kind of commitment to him—especially if there’s potential to reunite with Lucas Duda. Maybe the Mets would get lucky, but they’d probably be better served just sitting out on bringing Morrison to Flushing.