Moose Makes Sense for Missouri

Photo Credit: Kiel Maddox, USA Today Sports | Journal Sentinel

By: Eric Boston @EricBoston3

With this week having hosted the mid-term elections, I decided to do a little campaigning of my own.

Third baseman Mike Moustakas is a free agent for the second straight year. Could a return to the Show Me State be an option for the left-handed slugger?

Flashback one year ago when Moose hit the market for the first time. Moustakas had just completed a season in 2017 where he slashed .272/.314/.521, drove in 85 runs and hit a Kansas City Royals’ franchise record 38 home runs. That performance, and the fact that there were third base needy teams, made for the valid assumption that the two-time All-Star and World Series champ would be in high demand.

Then the unexpected happened. The bottom fell out of the market for Moustakas. He found himself deep into winter without a place to call home for 2018.

Dayton Moore, GM of the Royals, took advantage of the situation to resign the Kansas City fan favorite. Moore inked Moose to a two-year deal, the second year being an option year. The move may have been a bit puzzling on the surface for a team that was expected to be in full-on rebuild mode. However, fans were happy after losing Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain earlier in the off-season to the San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers respectively.

Even though his average dipped in the first half of 2018, Moose showed that his power numbers from the year before were not a fluke.

He slashed .249/3.09/.468 while hitting 20 home runs before Kansas City dealt him to Milwaukee this summer. 

Moustakas went from a team that was battling for the number one pick in the draft to being reunited with Cain on a Brewers team with World Series aspirations. In return, the Royals received Brett Phillips, a talented OF prospect who slid right into the everyday line-up and looks to be the starting CF in 2019, and P Jorge Lopez who will be in the mix for a backend rotation spot next season.

While the Brew Crew fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, Moose did get a chance to return to the playoffs and position himself for a long-term contract this winter. He finished the year with a .251/.315/.459 line with 28 HRs and 95 RBIs.

Looking at the current baseball landscape, a return to the Show Me State makes a lot of sense for the 30-year-old.

The Case for the Royals

Kansas City played much better after the trade deadline once they committed to their younger players. Led by veterans Salvador Perez, Whit Merrifield, and Alex Gordon, the group of Phillips, Aldaberto Mondesi, Ryan O’Hearn, Hunter Dozier, and Jorge Bonifacio showed that together they could win ballgames. However, Moose could easily fit into the rebuilding picture.

While O’Hearn showed promise at the plate, the sample size was simply too small to have a clear picture of what he might do over an entire season. Dozier received more playing time, but the former first-round pick did not overly impress while playing both corner infield spots. Perhaps a platoon at first base could get the best out of both players.

That would open up third base for a Moustakas reunion.

Honestly, who knows how Moose feels about Kansas City at this point. One would think that he is comfortable with the franchise he has spent all but one half of a season of his career with. With his age, he could be a productive piece of getting the Royals back to October baseball. The question will be, does he see the team being close enough to contention to be enticing? 

Playing in the weakest division in baseball means that a step forward and a little bit of luck could find the Royals battling for a division title sooner than some people think. Their biggest uncertainty is their pitching staff, a group where the team invested a lot of energy into, acquiring a slew of arms (both in the draft and via trade such as Lopez) in 2018.

One would think that if Moose’s market does not develop again, then Dayton Moore would be in contact with Scott Boras about his services.

The Case for the Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals have been looking to solidify the hot corner for a while now.

The name that keeps popping up is Josh Donaldson. The 32-year-old struggled with injury during the 2018 campaign, appearing in 36 games with the Toronto Blue Jays before being shipped to Cleveland to join the Indians for a playoff run. He logged an additional 16 with the Tribe, but who knows what Donaldson will look like going forward.

To me, Moustakas is a much safer bet long-term.

Moose would be a power upgrade over Jedd Gyorko who had 11 HRs and 47 RBIs in 351 At Bats last season. While Gyorko’s .262 BA in 2018 was higher than Moustakas, it was not a wide enough margin to make up for the run production that Moose provides.

Another left-handed bat in the St. Louis lineup would not hurt either.

The Cardinals are a team that is seemingly always in the playoff mix. They nearly made another postseason appearance in 2018 after a strong second half push but ultimately fell short. The opportunity to play for a consistent contender could be very appealing for Moustakas.

The deciding factor, if Moose was to return to Missouri, could be whether or not he feels like the young Royals’ roster can contend soon. If he does, then it would not be shocking to see him “come home”. However, both the Royals and the Cardinals should be talking to Moustakas as the off-season progresses.


Coming the first Saturday of December is a new podcast affiliate to Out of the Pen Baseball. The I-70 Podcast will be bringing you discussions about the Royals and the Cardinals on the My Team, My Voice Podcast Network. Tune in to get your Missouri baseball coverage and keep track of where Moustakas eventually ends up. 

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