Without delving too deep into the obviously gelid free agent market, former Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has found excruciating difficulty in finding a suitor for his services. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Moustakas and the Yankees “have been in occasional contact in recent days,” though it is widely acknowledged that Moustakas is not expected to garner much more attention from Brian Cashman and Co. Thankfully.
In all honesty, I am astonished by the fact that Moustakas is viewed highly upon by so many fans. Of course, the fact that he was a cornerstone for a small market team that won two consecutive pennants and a World Series is certainly the preliminary factor in all of that but beyond that, he is a below-average player.
For one thing, Moustakas owns a career .305 OBP and wRC+ of 96, in addition to a weighted on-base average (wOBA) of just .315, all of which are below league average. Even last year, when Moustakas slugged .521 with an isolated power of .249 (the latter which measures extra bases per at-bat), his on-base percentage was just .314. He did hit 38 home runs, by far the highest total of his career, but beyond his power numbers, is he really much more than a slugging third baseman who struggled to get on base and create runs.
The answer to that is a resounding no.
The metrics favor “Moose” as an above average defensive player for his career (7 defensive runs saved and a 24.5 ultimate zone rating), but he struggled mightily at the hot corner last year with -8 defensive runs saved and a negative ultimate zone rating of -3.1. Other troubling factors about the disgruntled free agent include his current perceived market value and the fact that his agent is Scott Boras, who has been adamantly overzealous in recent days with a war of words with MLB owners.
Justin Turner of the Dodgers has an average annual salary of $16 million, and David Wright (who has not played more than 38 games since 2014) has an average annual salary of $17.25 million. You would think Moustakas could easily command a contract of that caliber, but that simply isn’t the case.
The Yankees have been working to get below (and finally are below) the luxury tax threshold ($197 million for the 2018 season) and already acquired reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins back on December 9th. Currently, Miguel Andujar is expected to (and should) win the job at the hot corner. Some have proposed that Cashman should offer a cheap one-year deal to Moustakas, but there is simply no way any player with Boras representing them will get “underpaid,” let alone a one-year deal.
The Yankees really didn’t even need Stanton, but now they have a lineup that, if healthy, could be an all-time great one. This is a lineup that is already excellent at reaching base and Moustakas would impede that. It’s worth noting that signing Moustakas would also mean the loss of a draft pick, though the Yankees have arguably the best farm system in baseball.
Now, this is certainly no knock on Moustakas either. He is a serviceable third baseman who provides power and is a prominent fly ball hitter. But I am not sold on him at all and it would appear that owners and general managers aren’t either. Eventually, he will find a new home on a new team, although the chances of him going back to Kansas City are better than originally perceived.
The Yankees have a lineup that rivals that of the Astros, and Moustakas would be a piece that isn’t necessary given the team’s current situation. Andujar may need to improve his glove work, but his cannon arm and abilities at the plate will be on full display this year, and he should be an early Rookie of the Year candidate.