It would have been fun to see Mike Moustakas playing in a Kansas City Royals uniform again, but his contract with Cincinnati proves KC dodged a bullet.
Many were hoping that former Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas would opt to return to the team in this winter’s free agency. Instead, he signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds to become their second baseman of the future.
The deal was met with mixed reviews. Some thought it was a necessary — and slight — overpay by a team attempting to execute an accelerated rebuild. Others found it a puzzling move, as Moustakas’ natural position is third base and the Reds already have that spot covered. The $16 million AAV (average annual value) of the contract was also an eyesore to some. That puts Moustakas among the highest-paid second basemen in the MLB.
Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, we should all be thankful that the Royals didn’t get into a bidding war with any other teams for Moustakas’ services. He is a good third baseman and holds a special place in most of our hearts, but that doesn’t warrant the contract he got.
A four-year pact for a 31-year-old is risky, as Moustakas will be counted on to remain productive into his age-35 season. On top of that, although he was solid at second base a year ago for the Milwaukee Brewers, he’ll be playing out of place in Cincinnati.
While he brings good power to a lineup (101 home runs over 2017-2019) and can man his bag fairly well, he struggles to get on base more often than the average player. Before posting an OBP above the league average in 2019 (.329, MLB average was .323), Moustakas failed to do so in the three seasons beforehand.
All of this is to say that the Kansas City Royals wouldn’t have benefitted that much from bringing “Moose” back. Had Moustakas returned, the team may have been forced to bench Nicky Lopez. Lopez is no star but he improved down the stretch last season and offers a high floor for the future. Many have campaigned for Hunter Dozier to move to first base or to a corner outfield spot, which hypothetically would’ve opened the door for Moustakas.
In that situation, Dayton Moore would be offering Moose $16 million over four years to:
- Stay healthy
- Remain productive at the plate for all four seasons
- Reacclimate to playing third base
None of those stipulations are guarantees. At the end of the day, a shorter-term, cheaper commitment with Moustakas sounded ideal. Free agency is unpredictable, though, and it’s safe to say the Royals weren’t in on the running for their once-heralded hot corner specialist.
What do you think, Royals fans? Was this deal manageable? Could Dayton Moore have snagged Moustakas? Let us know in the comments!