The Diamondbacks have already begun to fill the hole left by the departure of third baseman Mark Reynolds. Merely hours after agreeing to deal Reynolds to Baltimore, Arizona added third baseman Melvin Mora on a one year, $2 million contract.
Although the Diamondbacks already have Geoff Blum on the roster, Mora will be Arizona’s best option at third base next season barring another move. Blum is very near the definition of replacement level, and the best players at the position on the farm, Bobby Borchering and Matthew Davidson, are still a few years away from the majors.
That said, Mora isn’t exactly an attractive first option. Despite the help of Coors Field, Mora only managed an ISO of .136. He still has decent on base skills, though, and because he can make contact on a regular basis, he should be able to produce a halfway decent batting line – somewhere around the league average – as long as he manages a BABIP near .300, a very reasonable expectation.
However, Mora will be 39 next season. That makes decline or even collapse with the bat a very real possibility. More importantly, though, it calls into question both Mora’s defense and his durability. With Blum on the roster and given a two year deal, the Diamondbacks may not necessarily plan on using Mora on a daily basis. However, that doesn’t mitigate the problem of defense. The Fans Scouting Report, UZR, DRS, and TotalZone all agree: Mora rated as a -6 defender by all four metrics last season. At 39, those no reason to expect Mora to be either a good defender or to get any better.
With the limits of his bat, his age, and his glove, expecting Mora to be an important piece on a contender is probably too much. If anything, this move signifies that new GM Kevin Towers probably isn’t looking at the 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks as a contending team. Instead, Mora serves as a cheap veteran stopgap who can bridge the gap to Borchering, Davidson, or whoever the team turns to in 2012 or 2013, and Mora should be able to serve in that role admirably.