The KC Royals have agreed to a two-year, $14.3 million deal with third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman. The agreement buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration eligibility.
According to Fox Sports reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, Moose will receive $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017:
Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore continued his 10-year streak of never going to arbitration with a player by signing Moustakas late Wednesday night. The two sides had been far apart when they exchanged numbers last month, with the KC Royals coming in at one-year, $4.2 million and Moustakas’ agent Scott Boras countering with one-year, $7.0 million.
The 27-year-old Moustakas enjoyed his best season in major-league baseball in 2015, slashing .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBIs. Along with Moose’s well above average fielding, the breakthrough turned him into a 4.4 fWAR (Wins Above Replacement) player, along with earning him his first All-Star nod.
The question, of course, is if Mike Moustakas can sustain his new performance level, or will he regress to the barely-playable guy that scuffled through his first four seasons with the KC Royals?
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Dayton Moore has just placed a $14.3 million bet that Moustakas will be, at least, a useful player the next two seasons, while gaining the possibility that Moose’s $8.7 million deal in 2017 will look like a bargain if Moustakas rakes in 2016. On the other hand, Moustakas obtains the security of $14.3 million in guaranteed money.
Of course, both sides gain the benefit of not having to go through the arbitration process ever again.
Some analysts consider Moustakas’ 2015 breakthrough to be somewhat fluky because his batting average slid to .269 after he hit .297 in the first half. Such skeptics will also note that Moustakas returned to his pull-happy ways in the last two months of the season.
But, what those naysayers forget is that Moustakas’ batting average crashed during July because his mother descended into her final illness. After she passed away, Moustakas bounced back to slash ..281/.375/.562 in August and .291/.342/.563 in September.
I don’t see Moose’s July slide as anything to worry about. Instead, I’m in the camp that thinks Moustakas can improve upon his 2015 season due to his new ability to take outside pitches to the opposite field. Once pitchers learned they could no longer simply pepper the outside edge, Moustakas got more inner-half pitches to attack with his power stroke.
I’m anticipating a big season for Mike Moustakas in 2016.