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Tampa Bay Rays free agent target: 3B Mike Moustakas

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“Do I have to profess my love for Moose?” - Mat Germain, Canadian

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Former Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas remains a free agent. Should the rebuilding Rays be interested in signing a top-flight infielder like him?

***

JT Morgan: Y’all see this?

Scott Boras, who is not ruling out the possibility of Moustakas sitting out regular-season games and re-entering the market next winter.

Danny Russell: All talk, but that’s silly.

JT Morgan: Ya no chance it happens for the full season.

Mat Germain: Is Scott Boras going to pay him?

JT Morgan: No, waiting until mid-season is in play though.

Mat Germain: Imagine if the Rays sign him for 1-year and move Duffy to 2B.

Adam Sanford: That seems to be the type of offers these guys are getting.

Mat Germain: Yeah, that offer’s a slap in the face.

JT Morgan: That’s pretty crazy.

Mat Germain: The remaining pitchers are better off signing Clemens type deals

JT Morgan: As for Mike, the real question is would the Rays give up the draft pick to sign Moustakas.

Mat Germain: Why not?

JT Morgan: I know you’re a big Moose fan. I think him and Walker are really close.

Mat Germain : They can get prospects for him mid-season. Pull off a Billy Beane special. He’d be the perfect rental.

JT Morgan: It’s just so hard. You really need somebody else to need a 3B.

Mat Germain: Let’s say they sign him for 1 yr/$15M. They trade him in June/July, they only pay $7M or so.

They’ve paid similar amounts to have Ramos and Eovaldi rehab

JT Morgan: I’m not a Moose fan, so I can’t really see it. I think he’s fine.

Mat Germain: Before we go there - how big of an impact would it have on Christian Arroyo?

JT Morgan: Pretty big I imagine.

Mat Germain: Well, his timeline would become held back by potential trade down the road, I would imagine. But for development’s sake, would that be a bad thing? He’s a guy that was rushed through AAA, which isn’t the Rays way really.

JT Morgan: I do think a good run in AAA is useful.

Danny Russell: And to be clear, we’re only talking one year here

Mat Germain: Definitely 1 year

JT Morgan: I just don’t think Moustakas is the right choice. I also can’t imagine the Rays paying what it would take on a 1 year deal and losing a pick (even if it is lesser than in the past).

Mat Germain: Is there an example from last year or this year, in terms of free agents?

JT Morgan: Like Bautista? Go back to the Fowler QO season, or Cruz’s one year deal. Not a ton really recently.

This would be my argument: why sign Moose when you could sign Neil Walker?

Walker vs Moustakas

2015-2017 Neil Walker Mike Moustakas
2015-2017 Neil Walker Mike Moustakas
PA 1509 1325
HR 53 67
SB 7 1
BB% 9.3 % 6.5 %
K% 18.0 % 13.8 %
BABIP 0.302 0.273
AVG 0.272 0.275
OBP 0.344 0.329
SLG 0.446 0.496
wOBA 0.339 0.348
wRC+ 113 118
BsR 0.7 -11.8
WAR 8.1 6.6
Fangraphs

I don’t think there’s a big difference. Walker is the better OBP guy. Moustakas has more power. Moustakas is younger and his best 2018 is probably going to be a little better, but that’s a lot to pay for a small probability of a higher ceiling.

Mat Germain: Yeah, closest guys I could find were Walker and Bautista but those are different positions and defensive abilities. Moose is a better defender than either of them were.

JT Morgan: Moose was a good defender. I don’t put a ton of stock in one year numbers, but when taking into account the ACL tear he really could have taken a step back there.

I don’t think I could justify the draft pick and money difference for Moustakas over Walker, but I think either would make the team better.

Mat Germain: I really think we’re talking a half season though, and the key to me is not only the fact that you’d maintain high quality defensive abilities at 3B, but also that you significantly increase production at 2B.

JT Morgan: The big thing is he could end up being really difficult to trade for anything worthwhile if Donaldson/Machado were your 3B competition on the trade market.

I think we could make a better argument for this signing than against, though.

Mat Germain: Moustakas finished 4th among 3B in ISO (.249), 10th in wRC+ (114), and only struck out 15.7 % of the time. He’s been to the World Series twice, has a wealth of experience to share, and hit .862 vs RHP/.763 vs LHP in 2017

He’d be a huge addition to this team, even for a half season, and would be a great coup by the front office.

JT Morgan: I don’t buy that he’s really better than Walker.

Mat Germain: Let’s go back to the trade potential mid-season.

The Yankees received 3B Todd Frazier, RHP David Robertson, RHP Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox for OF Blake Rutherford, RHP Tyler Clippard, LHP Ian Clarkin

If the Rays were to offer a contending team a combination of Moustakas and either Jennings or Colome, depending on what that team needs, they could land some really intriguing prospects

Of course it always depends on the needs of that team, but assuming the races are tight for wild cards, there’s usually some level of need out there for a corner infield bat.

That assumes the Rays are out of the race, but at a cost of $7-$9M, would 6 years of Rutherford and Clarkin be worth it? I’d say so, and with the smarts of this front office, there’s little doubt in my mind they’d get decent value out of it

Danny Russell: Steamer agrees with JT on this one.

Steamer Projections: 2018

Steamer Neil Walker Mike Moustakas
Steamer Neil Walker Mike Moustakas
PA 595 560
AVG 0.269 0.267
OBP 0.346 0.322
SLG 0.458 0.492
wOBA 0.343 0.340
Bat 8.5 6.8
Bsr -0.6 -1.7
Fld -3.8 -0.3
WAR 2.6 2.5
Fangraphs

If you can get Neil Walker, it’s the better solution, particularly because I see this as a plug at DH, not second base — You’ll have to let Miller walk to make this work financially.

Then again, I don’t have much sympathy for the Rays financially when there’s only $30 million on the books next year, a $50 million payday incoming from the sale of BAM, and a $1.2 billion television deal on the horizon.

Moustakas has been a three-win player exactly twice, and most recently that was 2015. I don’t see a reason to spend big on Moose when there’s a comparable free agent available in Walker.

Poll

Who should the Rays pursue?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Mike Moustakas
    (67 votes)
  • 43%
    Neil Walker
    (95 votes)
  • 25%
    Neither
    (56 votes)
218 votes total Vote Now