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Omaha needs third basemen too

"It would be very difficult to find a better alternative for us than Mike Moustakas at third base, Not that we’d be looking. But he’s definitely our third baseman going forward." - Royals GM Dayton Moore, last week in the Kansas City Star

Since that question looks settled (or as settled as any statement can be settled by "GM Speak"), let's take a look at an equally captivating question... yes, Triple-A Third Basemen!

Ryan Roberts could be Omaha's 3rd baseman, or he could be on the 2015 Royals
Ryan Roberts could be Omaha's 3rd baseman, or he could be on the 2015 Royals
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Sure, if you were just looking at stats and stuff, you'd think one position of improvement would be 3rd base. Mostly because Mike Moustakas has hit 223/279/363 there in his last 2 seasons with an OPS+ of 76. But as noted, Mike Moustakas is the guy at 3rd base, so we'll take their word for it. If the last two Mays weren't enough for them to pursue a serious alternative to Moustakas, then let's be realistic here.

Considering Dayton's quote and the recent proliferation of a list of minor league free agents. I'm gonna go back to an old habit of looking through random available players. That habit was actually pretty reasonable during the Baird years. Back then, saying "hey, there's some random new free agents, maybe KC should sign that guy!" was usually followed by "Hey, we have Ruben Mateo on our team now" and followed by "Hey, this guy isn't actually good". One of the good things about the Dayton Moore era is that the team doesn't usually make one 25 man roster move per day. While the Baird years were kinda fun for the consistent roster flux on a mid-season team, most of those Royals teams had a flux because they weren't very good.

Mike Moustakas has a job essentially guaranteed right now, But Omaha needs 3rd basemen too. (Especially since any 3rd basemen who might be in AAA soon have a habit of being moved away from 3rd base). Omaha third basemen provide a vital service of playing 3rd base, without actually being seriously touted to replace Mike Moustakas. In this economy, you can't underestimate that service.

Let's look at some young-ish guys who could wind up following in the shoes of greats like Brandon Wood, Brian Bocock, and Irving Falu. Or they could be Yangervis Solarte (but probably not).

In no order of preference, some musings on free agent 3rd basemen and people who played 3rd base somehow:

Before we start: Ryan Roberts is a 3rd baseman on occasion and is apparently going to be signed by the Royals any day now. He spent most of his 2014 in Pawtucket-AAA. There's a chance that signing Ryan Roberts will suffice for adding a 3rd baseman on the Omaha team. There's a chance that Ryan Roberts will hang around the 2015 Royals and make starts in place of Omar Infante every few weeks when Omar has a day-to-day malady (or maybe Roberts will face a few lefty starting pitchers at 3rd base). It's Baseball, we don't know how this will shake out. Ryan Roberts once hit 19 homers in 2011, but that seems like an eternity ago, doesn't it?

Misc 29/30 year olds of note who won't get long summaries of their skills: Jared Goedert (K-State; Concordia, Kansas; turning 30 in 2015), Andy LaRoche (Fort Scott, Kansas!; the lesser known LaRoche brother! Both LaRoches are free agents! Andy is looking for the right way to prod Adam for tips on teams who'd be interested), Mario Lisson (was on the Royals 40 man roster for an eternity in the 2000s), Ed Lucas (has cashed quite a few MLB checks, cool deal for him), and Scott Sizemore (he got MLB playing time for the Yankees this year).

Alex Castellanos played 3rd base in 39 games in 2014. It didn't really go well for him there, fielding-wise. Castellanos played 3rd base in the low minors, then kept away from 3rd base until 2012 in AAA. Then after he was traded from the Dodgers, waivered away from the Red Sox, and waivered away from the Rangers in the span of 5 months, he wound up in El Paso, playing anywhere where they'd let him play. There wasn't really any threat that the Padres, who had Chase Headley and Yangervis Solarte, would decide they needed some Alex Castellanos. Castellanos didn't really top the PCL averages by much, while playing in a hitter friendly park. Jeff Francoeur and Alex Castellanos were teammates in 2014, they did not dare speak of how awesome the year 2011 was. Castellanos could be living in the AAA Hotel California for the near future.

Or if you're in the market for a minor league 3rd baseman who played for the El Paso Chihuahuas who is younger than 28. Jonathan Galvez is also a free agent. Galvez has 215 games at AAA in 2013 and 2014 with the Tucson Padres and El Paso Chihuahuas. He posted a hitting line of 279/348/414 (disclaimer: PCL) with 16 homers and 48 doubles. Galvez also stole 22 bases in 2013. Galvez is turning 24 in January and is a free agent since he got his first professional ball playing time in 2008 at 17. Galvez started off as a shortstop who made lots of errors, moved to 2nd base and made fewer errors, and spent his 2014 rotating between left field, 3rd base, DH and 1st baseman. Presumably his position in Chihuahuas games depended on the whims of a telepathic chihuahua (which could explain why the Chihuahuas used Jeff Francoeur as a pitcher 8 times). Galvez's time as a 3rd baseman presumably involved tramautic flashbacks to his time playing shortstop (in other words, errors!). But if you're 24, a seasoned AAA guy, and a free agent, someone will eventually convince you to play baseball for monetary compensation.

Remember that Brandon Laird was in the Royals organization last Winter? Then his contract was traded off to the Nationals in March. Laird got to play 3rd base for Syracuse all year (posting a 300/350/490 line with 18 HRs in the International League). So Laird could always get a second chance to be traded to another team in Spring Training. It worked before. Laird was in the Yankees organization from 2007 to 2012 but somehow Laird couldn't beat out Alex Rodriguez for the 3rd base spot in NY. The New York Tabloids could probably tell you how A-Rod fought off the advance of B-Laird.

Jamie Romak got some time with the Los Angeles Dodgers this year. You may have missed that news. Jamie Romak and Clint Robinson got to play a little bit with the 2014 Dodgers. Baseball is magical for the amount of random short-term opportunity available. Anyways, Jamie Romak was in the Royals system from 2010 to 2012. He went off to hit some homers in Springfield, Memphis, and Albuquerque. The PCL caveat applies. But he did hit some dingers in recent years.

Deibinson Romero is the only Deibinson in baseball. He's also a Twins farmhand who is playing a position where the Twins are pretty-well set at this moment. Romero hit 265/364/406 for the Rochester Red Wings, notching 60 walks and 31 doubles in 123 games. Whatever he does in 2015, his father Deibin will be proud of him (I've used that same joke in reference to Jurickson Profar).

Neftali Soto was a 3rd round draft pick out of Puerto Rico in the same draft where Mike Moustakas went #2 overall. Moustakas landed on a team that was able to open a spot for him when he was deemed 'ready' to play in the majors. Soto was picked by the Reds in the same draft where they drafted Todd Frazier. Soto is turning 26 soon, He has 44 major league plate appearances and he is 3 for 42 as a big leaguer. His major league hitting line literally has nowhere to go but up (ok, it could get worse too). Since 2012, Soto has hit 270/323/410 in 1328 plate appearances in AAA. He would be well advised to hope a team without a rock solid incumbent 3rd baseman will sign him for baseball in 2015. Roam free Neftali, this might be your best chance to find somewhere who could give you major league playing time (that somewhere probably isn't gonna be in Kansas City though).

I'll namedrop the following young minor league free agents who don't really have much experience above AA, they are of a varying quality: Michael Almanzar (24yo soon), Jarek Cunningham (25 on Christmas Day, coming off of his 3rd consecutive year in Altoona), Jefry Marte (23 years old, kinda hit sorta good in Midland?), Juan Silverio (24 years old, same Reds system as Neftali Soto). I left out a few guys coming off of sub-.300 OBP seasons in AA. My apologies if Alex Liddi turns out to be the breakout star of 2015.

So, if you look around the list of free agents, you can see how one of them could be signed by KC and deemed to not really be an alternative to Mike Moustakas. Alternatives to Mike Moustakas will require things like trades or signings or not weighing 5 postseason homers as being more significant than 4 years of sub-standard production.

Obviously those postseason homers will turn Moustakas around. I'm sure there was some underachiever who turned into a good player for all 162 after a good hitting postseason (someone mention a name if such exists). If you wanna believe Mike Moustakas hitting homers in October is substantially different from the other times that he hit a few homers in a week as a major leaguer, that's your right as an American. I just find it kinda absurd that Moustakas has a job guaranteed because he hit 5 homers in a postseason where he OBPed .259. Moustakas pretty much has one path to success as a major leaguer, and that involves turning into Gary Gaetti. I'm not sure how realistic that path is right now.

In conclusion, "Move away from Moustakas? In his moment of triumph? I think you underestimate his chances"