KC Royals And Mike Moustakas Far Apart After Arbitration Exchange

The KC Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas find themselves far apart after they exchanged arbitration numbers last Friday. The Kansas City Royals came in with a $4.2 million proposal, while Moustakas countered with $7 million.

That’s a big difference on a one-year arbitration deal.

The way arbitration works is both sides make a proposal, and a panel of three arbitrators select which deal makes the most sense. While that sounds simple, Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore has avoided this process ever since taking the job 10 years ago. Justifying an arbitration deal forces the team to highlight a player’s shortcomings, which can result in long-term acrimony or cause him to lose confidence in his abilities.

An arbitration hearing can only hurt a young player’s development.

But, Dayton Moore and agent Scott Boras must bridge a large divide in order to avoid an arbitration hearing with Mike Moustakas. The problem is, both sides have a rational basis for their numbers.

Mike Moustakas Career Statistics:  [table id=49 /]

To put it simply, the KC Royals’ offer makes sense if you base his expected performance on his career numbers. Moustakas’ sheet makes sense if you consider 2015 a breakthrough season that establishes a new standard for future years.

Moustakas has struggled to adjust to the major leagues since he was the Minor League Player Of The Year in 2010. If teams figure out a way to attack the “new Moose”, and Moustakas is again slow to adjust, then the Kansas City Royals offer will be more appropriate. But if Moustakas’ new ability to take outside pitches the other way has fundamentally changed the dynamic between pitcher and hitter, his $7 million number is more than fair.

I believe that Moustakas has broken through to a new level of performance. In fact, I believe that Moose could be even better than he was in 2015. After all, he dealt with his mother’s passing that caused him to take family emergency leave multiple times during the season.

After his mother passed away in July, Moose played like the guy that dominated AA and AAA in 2010. Moustakas slashed .281/.375/.562 in August and .291/.342/.563 in September for the KC Royals. He blasted 12 of his 22 home runs, and drove in 43 of his 82 RBIs in the last two months of the season.

In short, I think Moustakas could finally become the middle-of-the-order power hitter that the KC Royals hoped they were getting when they made him the second overall pick of the 2007 draft.

Since the upside offsets the downside, I believe last year’s numbers to be the appropriate basis for this season’s arbitration contract. If Scott Boras can’t convince the KC Royals to see things his way, then we could see Mike Moustakas become the first player to go to arbitration in the Moore era.