Royals fans are prepared to see Mike Moustakas traded. But are they prepared to see him on the other side of the state?
The St. Louis Cardinals have “renewed interest” in Mike Moustakas, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. There were rumors the Cardinals were interested in Moustakas last winter, although no reports they ever made an offer to the then-free agent. However, St. Louis already has a pretty solid third baseman in Matt Carpenter, who has out-hit Moustakas this year. So how does Moose fit in?
According to Rosenthal, Carpenter may move to second base to replace the struggling Kolten Wong. Or they could move Carpenter back to first base and try to trade Jose Martinez, possibly to the Twins. The thought process would be to try to improve the defense by acquiring Moustakas, moving Carpenter to his better position, and getting rid of Martinez, who is a poor defender.
However Martinez has also been their best hitter, batting .305/.375/.500 this year with 12 home runs. And he is under club control through 2022. There seem to be too many moving parts under this scenario for a Moustakas trade to happen.
But with few potential suitors needing a third baseman, Matt Carpenter’s positional flexibility may allow St. Louis to take advantage of the market for Moustakas. The 29-year old is on a one-year deal at a cheap price, and is hitting .255/.310/.467, although he has been slumping in the month of June.
As for what St. Louis could offer, Baseball America ranked their farm system 13th in baseball before the season, while Keith Law pegged them as 12th-best. You can look at MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Cardinals prospects or John Sickels’ grades of their prospects to get an idea of who the Royals could be looking at. The Royals can probably hope for a “B” prospect, someone in the lower end of their top ten, maybe someone like speedy centerfielder Oscar Mercado, and another top 20 prospect or two, likely an arm with upside. With the market moving away from rentals and home run hitters, anyone close to Top 100 prospects status is probably out of reach.
The Braves and Phillies have also been mentioned as possible trade partners for Moustakas, and the Angels just lost third baseman Zack Cozart for the season, although they do not currently find themselves close to a playoff spot. The Royals can not receive draft pick compensation for Moustakas this year, so they will be highly motivated to move Moustakas for whatever they can get.