As Robert Murray of The Athletic reported from the Major League Baseball winter meetings, the Milwaukee Brewers are open to a reunion with third baseman Mike Moustakas. The 2018 National League Central champions acquired the two-time All-Star from the Kansas City Royals at the trade deadline last season.
Moustakas hit free agency on October 30 and remains unsigned as of now. With the market being controlled by, most notably, two tremendously talented position players — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — it appears Moustakas will have to wait it out and see what the future holds for him. Unless, of course, the 2015 World Series champion just wants to go ahead and sign with the Houston Astros, like, today.
The Astros have no business signing an aging third baseman and throwing him into a youthful, speedy team. In addition, Moustakas would probably be better off waiting for a hole to open up with another team that allows him to play third base and hit high in the lineup every day, something that, with presence of Alex Bregman and the heavy Astros order, isn’t possible.
But Moustakas is everything Houston needs and more, and at 30 years old, he still has a lot left in the tank. The former second-overall draft pick slashed .251/.315/.459 while hitting 28 home runs and driving in 95 runs in his 152 games between K.C. and Milwaukee, and did so at third base, designated hitter, first base, and as a pinch-hitter.For the @Astros to get a leg up on the competition atop the AL, they should sign third baseman/designated hitter Mike Moustakas. @TomDorsa has more.Click To Tweet
He isn’t Marwin Gonzalez, but the versatility “Moose” would provide for A.J. Hinch and the Astros is unmatched in free agency, even when including Harper and Machado. For some of the same reasons I drove the “Josh Donaldson to Houston” bus before the former AL Most Valuable Player signed with the Braves, Moustakas and the Astros are a match made in heaven.
After losing Brian McCann to Atlanta, Houston has just one left-handed hitter who can play every day, that being right fielder Josh Reddick. Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Yuli Gurriel, Tyler White, Jake Marisnick, and the catching tandem of Max Stassi and Robinson Chirinos are all right-handed hitters, not to mention righties like J.D. Davis and Aledmys Diaz on the 40-man roster.
Of course, young outfielders Tony Kemp, Kyle Tucker, and Derek Fisher are left-handers with the capability of playing frequently, but none of the trio have hit consistently at the major-league level. That’s where Moustakas’ company makes a big difference; he is a left-handed bat on a team with virtually zero impactful left-handed hitters, and he can slide right there between the likes of Springer, Bregman, Altuve, and others at the top of the order.
He slides in perfectly as a designated hitter in a lineup that will likely lose the services of free agent Evan Gattis, and he can play third base or first base if necessary. Despite the convictions of Moustakas being woefully incapable of defending, the veteran actually grades out as a plus defender at the hot corner, posting two FanGraphs defensive runs saved at third last season.
Additionally, when considering that the next-best feasible option for a left-handed bat is Daniel Murphy and his -18 DRS from last season, Moustakas becomes the safer bet. The former Royal provides defensive stability in the wake of Altuve’s rehab from knee surgery and the injury-prone Correa; Bregman and Gurriel generally shift to shortstop and second base, respectively, when the two conventional middle infielders are out, meaning Moustakas could fill the void left by the moving Bregman at third.
There is an incentive to signing him that has nothing to do with what happens on the field, too: Moustakas was not eligible for a qualifying offer this season, and therefore, the Astros would not have to surrender a draft pick after signing him. And then there’s the on-field advantage of the fact that Moustakas’ 66 home runs over the past two seasons are more than any Astro has in that time frame, and that he would be moving from Kauffman Stadium (where the bulk of that total came from) to Minute Maid Park, where home runs are more frequent.
You can tell me that this is a terrible idea and I might see your side, but this is a perfect signing in theory. Both parties get what they need and the Astros position themselves for a return to the top. Change my mind.
MLB insiders have found absolutely no connection between Moustakas and the Astros thus far. Hopefully general manager Jeff Luhnow and owner Jim Crane are onto it.