Fire Away: Time for the Red Sox heavy hitters to keep spark alive

Mitch Moreland would like to return to Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BALTIMORE, Md. —  At the season's end, Mitch Moreland is set to become a free agent.

The Red Sox have not yet approached him about a contract extension, but the first baseman was adamant that he'd like to return next year.

"Absolutely. I've loved it. I've loved it here," Moreland told CNHI Sports Boston. "It's just been a blast to play in front of the fans, and just the atmosphere of being a part of the Boston Red Sox. The organization has been great. But there's a lot bigger things at stake right now. We've got a long ways to go and a lot of work to do. So we'll worry about that when the time comes."

Moreland's swing has thrived at Fenway Park. The left-hander has made the most of the Green Monster, his 32 doubles this season are already a career high, and has played sound defense at first.

"I've said all along that (Fenway is) a place I've always enjoyed hitting," Moreland said. "It makes you feel comfortable, helps you stay in that approach of (hitting the ball to the) middle (and going the) other way better. And I feel like I'm at my best if I'm doing that."

First base will be one of Dave Dombrowski's toughest decisions of the offseason. Resigning Moreland would block Sam Travis' path to first base, but would it be worth it for another year of this production?

Moreland is batting .250 with 19 home runs, 71 RBIs and a .771 OPS. Travis is a promising prospect, but boasts severe splits. Dombrowski could also always look elsewhere in free agency.

On a one-year, $5.5 million deal, Moreland was one of the best signings of the 2016 offseason. In addition to his on-the-field production manager John Farrell has lauded him at length as a tone-setter in the Red Sox clubhouse. He played through a broken toe without thinking twice.

A platoon player for much of his career, Moreland has already logged a career high in plate appearances. Despite the heavy workload, he's feeling no worse for wear.

"I'm feeling alright. I think extra inning games have been a little tough on everybody but I don't feel any different than any of the other seasons so far," Moreland said. "I'm just happy we've been in a good place all year playing well. That makes everything a little bit easier, you know?"

Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at cmason@northofboston.com, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason

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