Free agents are now able to negotiate with any team, which means Royals stars like Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer - both represented by super-agent Scott Boras - will be in high demand around baseball. I took a look last week at who might be calling for a meeting with Eric Hosmer, so today we take a look at potential landing spots for Mike Moustakas.
Los Angeles Angels
Moustakas went to high school about an hour northwest of Angel Stadium, so signing with the Angels would be returning home for the Chatsworth High School grad. The Angels had Yunel Escobar at third base last year, but will likely seek an upgrade as Escobar hits free agency. Jon Heyman at FanRag reports the Angels will be interested in Moose, citing his left-handed bat as a balance against their right-handed-heavy lineup.
The Angels have already re-signed outfielder Justin Upton to a five-year, $106 million deal, but that deal actually gave them a bit more financial flexibility in the next few years because it was so backloaded. The team only has $137 million committed to next year’s payroll, according to Cot’s Contracts.
The Angels have only made the playoffs once with Mike Trout, so there may be greater urgency to build a better team around him. However, pitching may be a higher priority as they try to sort out a rag-tag pitching staff that may have overachieved last year.
San Francisco Giants
Next year is an even-year, so the Giants will likely want to capitalize after losing 98 games last year, their worst season since 1985. No team in baseball had worse production from third base last year than the Giants, whose third basemen collectively hit .216/.268/.300. They were so desperate they even brought back portly contract bust Pablo Sandoval, who right now is the incumbent starter.
Moustakas would give the Giants a much needed upgrade at third and the power bat they need after finishing dead last in the National League in home runs. Heyman has reported that the Giants are expected to be “all over” Moustakas, who may prefer the West Coast. However the Giants payroll is already quite high, and they likely won’t be able to sign Moustakas without going over the luxury tax threshold unless they move some other salaries.
St. Louis Cardinals
Royals fans may not enjoy seeing their stars leave, but they will forgive them for the most part. But if those stars end up in St. Louis? Royals fans may see red.
St. Louis writer Rick Hummel says the Cardinals will take a look at Moustakas to boost their offense that is short on left-handed bats. Matt Carpenter played some third for the Cardinals, but some feel the club will want to upgrade their defense by keeping Carp at first, which could allow a solid glove like Moustakas to fit in the infield. The Cardinals should have the resources to pursue at least one big impact free agent this winter, and Moustakas could be their man.
New York Yankees
The Bronx Bombers have the declining Chase Headley at third for one more year, and Todd Frazier is a free agent, so the club may look to bring in a bat to take advantage of their rising, young core. Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe expects the Yankees to be a bidder for Moustakas.
Rustin Dodd at the Kansas City Star, as well as others, have suggested that the short porch in right field could give the Yankees greater reason to sign a left-handed power bat like Moustakas. However, if it is so easy for lefties to hit home runs in Yankee Stadium, wouldn’t it make more sense to save your money, find a much lesser player, and watch his inflated numbers in the Bronx? The market for third basemen is pretty limited, which could help Moose, and the Yankees should be under the luxury tax threshold enough for one big signing.
MLB Trade Rumors predicted Moustakas would sign in Atlanta, which might be a bit of a surprise. The Braves have been in rebuild mode, but now that they are in their new stadium, they may seek to accelerate their timeline. The Braves had the second-worst production in baseball from third base last year, with a hodgepodge of poor options to choose from. Their hopes may have been pinned on young Rio Ruiz, but he flopped in his rookie campaign and his minor league numbers were underwhelming.
The Braves have a deep farm system and may be able to engineer a trade to fill their third base needs. But they also have more revenues with their new ballpark, and plenty of payroll flexibility to make a big splash this winter.
Kansas City Royals
Former General Manager Jim Duquette thinks the Royals can keep Hosmer and Moustakas, despite the high price it will likely take to retain those two stars. Local columnist Sam Mellinger has written that the off-season hinges on whether the Royals can keep Hosmer, but if they can, it could spur them to aggressively retain Moustakas as well.
However, the Royals already have about $120 million in commitments for next year, and have been reportedly “living beyond their means” for the past few seasons, suggesting payroll could drop next year. Perhaps they are willing to bust the budget for two franchise players like Hosmer and Moustakas, but the market will likely have to dry up for the Royals to meet their price.
Young Maikel Franco has regressed the last two seasons, and was below replacement level last year, despite hitting 24 home runs. Over the summer, reports surfaced that he was no longer in Philly’s long-term plans and was being shopped around. If Philadelphia decides to go in a different direction, they could pursue a free agent like Moustakas.
Cafardo lists the Phillies as a potential suitor that could use a power lefty bat. The Phillies, like the Braves, have been rebuilding, but may seek to kick-start the process now that it seems to have stalled. If Moose prioritizes winning, however, the Phillies may not look as attractive, since they lost 96 games last year and haven’t had a winning season since 2011.
New York Mets
Longtime All-Star third baseman David Wright missed the entire season with back and rotator cuff injuries, and it is uncertain when, or even if, he will return. Wilmer Flores could fill in at third, but the team is more likely going to seek a replacement. The Mets were connected to Moustakas last April when the Royals stumbled to a slow start and were expected to sell. Cafardo writes that the Mets will be among the teams interested in his services again this winter. However, the Mets are still under budgetary restrictions that will likely keep them from outbidding other clubs for Moustakas.
Boston Red Sox
Boston fans were penciling Moustakas into their lineup earlier this year when the Royals were struggling and Pablo Sandoval was benched in Boston. But rookie Rafael Devers more than held his own at third, and looks to be the future for Boston. There is the possibility that General Manager Dave Dombrowski - who has typically favored veterans over less proven players - could seek a free agent bat like Moustakas at third and perhaps use Devers as trade bait. But that seems like an unlikely scenario after Devers posted a line of .284/.338/.482 in 58 games at age 20.
Who will Mike Moustakas play for in 2018
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