Mike Moustakas (2016 age: 27)
2015 salary: $2.64 MM, 2016: Arbitration eligible
Moustakas, like Cain, is another interesting case when it comes to signing an extension before hitting the open market. The former first-rounder is only a .247 career hitter, and spent time in the minor leagues during the 2014 season in which he batted just .212 in the big leagues. Moustakas began to emerge as a power threat in last fall’s postseason, hitting five home runs, but despite some gaudy power numbers, is hitting only .222 in 31 postseason games.
This year, Moustakas appeared to turn a corner offensively, as he posted a career-high .284 batting average and .470 slugging percentage with 22 home runs and 82 RBIs. This was a refreshing change for the Royals, who were patient with their third baseman through three straight years of sub-.250 hitting. After five years, Moustakas may finally be finding his power stroke. The lefty hit 15 of his 22 home runs in 69 second half games. His average did tail off from .297 in the first half to .269 after the All-Star break, but the drop was not incredibly steep to be worrisome. This was finally the type of full season the Royals expected when selecting Moustakas with the second overall pick in 2007.
Moustakas is a very similar player to Hosmer, and is also repped by Boras. If Moustakas were represented by any other agent in baseball, he would be a prime candidate for an extension — former first round pick struggles mightily for five years, has good year, cashes in to prevent the possibility of a regression torpedoing his value. Mostakas likely would not even consider signing a two-year deal similar to Hosmer’s because that would lead right into his free agency. Like Hosmer, Moustakas needs arbitration to more firmly establish his value. Both Hosmer and Moustakas need validation that they are valuable to the rest of the league, and not just valuable when used as a cog in a relentless Kansas City Royals lineup.