The Royals have begun spring training in earnest, with the first week of games under their belt, and yet Mike Moustakas remains unsigned. While other unsigned players like Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Greg Holland have at least drawn interest, the market for Moose has been ice-cold. As Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe recently wrote:
“There’s been stone-cold silence on free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas. “He’ll likely be somewhere soon, but will it be on a long-term deal?”
Brian Kenny of MLB Network met up with Royals General Manager Dayton Moore for “30 Clubs in 30 Days”, and asked Moore point blank whether he was receptive to a reunion with Moose.
“Economics are part of where we are right now....we respect him a great deal. He makes our team better. We do have the DH in our league - not that he would be a full-time DH - but other players could get at-bats and we could find out what we need to find out about them - the young core group that I mentioned - and that wouldn’t interfere.”
Dayton Moore on @MLBNetwork "We're not going to close our door ever to good players, and Mike Moustakas is a good player."— Josh Vernier (@JoshVernier610) March 4, 2018
However, Dayton Moore made clear the emphasis is on seeing what the young kids can do. While he felt like the team needed a left-handed bat (by the way, Mike Moustakas is a left-handed bat), he didn’t want anything that would take away at-bats from young players he wants to get a long look at.
He went on to say that they probably need another left-handed bat, but won't bring in anyone that would hinder Soler/Boni/Cuthbert/Whit getting every day at-bats. Need to learn if they can factor into 2019 plans & beyond. #Royals— Josh Vernier (@JoshVernier610) March 4, 2018
In addition to bringing up the “economics” of the situation that might limit them from offering Mike Moustakas the kind of deal he wants, Moore also said that the team would not be doing any long-term deals.
Dayton Moore on @MLBNetwork "I suspect we won't do any multi-year deals at this point in time with where we are. Maybe even next year as well, unless the perfect player comes along that fits us long term." #Royals— Josh Vernier (@JoshVernier610) March 4, 2018
Moustakas was expected to get a four- or five-year deal at the outset of free agency, but many suspect he may have to settle for a one-year deal with such a slow market.
Dayton Moore acknowledged that Moustakas would improve the club, but noted that improving the team through external additions may not be the highest priority right now.
“We will continue to do everything we can to make sure we put the best team on the field as possible, knowing we have to build the farm system back to the level it was in 2010 and 2011. We have to do it through homegrown players. We feel like the majority of our 25-man roster has to reflect homegrown talent. We’re not there yet.”
Moore won’t completely rule out a reunion with Moose, but it is hard to see how he would fit in the rebuild plans Moore has laid out. The team likely wants a long look at Cheslor Cuthbert at third base this year, and Hunter Dozier is also an option there. Signing Moustakas would cost the Royals the chance to get a draft pick. Even if Moustakas fails to sign a $50 million deal, the Royals would still get a pick after the second round if a team signs him by the June draft.
Dayton Moore likes to keep his plans close to the vest and never likes to rule anything out, but it seems very unlikely the Royals would bring back Moose. No doubt it has been a very frustrating off-season for the third baseman that set the single-season franchise home run record. The White Sox have kept in touch, and all it takes is some team to suffer a key spring training injury to open up an opportunity for Moustakas. Just don’t expect that opportunity to be in Kansas City.