Remember back when Mike Moustakas was going to not only be the Royals third baseman of the present, but of the future as well? It was not that long ago when the power hitting Moustakas was regarded as one of the Royals top prospects, ready to help lead the Royals out of the darkness of mediocrity and into the light of the playoffs. Along with Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, Moustaks was expected to anchor the offense for at least the next five years.
Instead, Moustakas has been an anchor to the offense. Despite showing the occasional flash of his potential, Moustakas has essentially become a black hole in the lineup, getting progressively worse each season. In what was expected to be a make or break year, he has produced a miniscule .147/.215/.321 batting line. All four of his home runs, and ten of his RBIs, came in a one week span when he briefly appeared to have figured out how to be a legitimate major league hitter. Unfortunately, that production was about as sustainable as an ice cube sitting out in the Arizona sunlight.
Now, there are rumors that the Royals are at least considering sending Mike Moustakas down to Omaha. While the move would, theoretically, be to bring up yet another in the carousel of relief options that the Royals have had in their bullpen, it certainly speaks volumes to Moustakas’s lack of production that such a move is being considered. Considering all the coddling, and the continual chances that Moustakas has received, the fact that he may be a candidate to get sent down has to be at least slightly surprising.
These latest struggles, should Moustakas not be able to correct himself at Omaha, could be the death knell for his future with the Royals. Having failed thus far in what may have been a pivotal season, Moustakas could soon find himself replaced in the lineup by the duo of Johnny Giavotella and Danny Valencia. Even if he somehow staves off this potential demotion, his time at third is seemingly drawing to an end as either Cheslor Cuthbert or Hunter Dozier are likely to be the future.
Yes, Mike Moustakas has performed well defensively. Yes, he has taken a few walks and has seen more pitches this season. However, third base is not a position where a team can carry a defensively oriented player who provides virtually nothing with the bat as an everyday player. Even the Detroit Tigers eventually learned that lesson with Brandon Inge, and Moustakas is not the defensive player that Inge was in his prime. Third base needs to be a position where the Royals have someone capable of producing runs, which Moustakas has not proven to be able to do for any length of time.
Perhaps an extended stay in Omaha will be exactly what Moustakas needs. Instead of the time spent in the Venezuelan Winter League, or the new batting stance, perhaps Moustakas needs to be sent back to languish in AAA to light a fire and correct his issues. Or, perhaps Moustakas is just one of those players who can tear apart the minor leagues, but is incapable of producing at the same level in the bright lights of the majors.
The next day or two may speak volumes for how the Royals view Mike Moustakas. A demotion could well be a sign that not only will he not be a part of the future, but that the present has passed Moustakas by as well.