Two-time All-Star Mike Moustakas leads a small class of free-agent third basemen this winter, and there should be plenty of interest in his services.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas picked the perfect time for his first real breakout year. In his walk year, the 29-year-old hit .272/.314/.521 with 38 home runs and 85 RBI. The power numbers exploded for the man Kansas City Royals fans have called MOOOOOOOSSSSSSSEEEE for the past seven seasons. Prior to 2017, he had never hit more than 22 home runs in a season.
Moustakas headlines a small class of third basemen in this year’s class of free agents, and he is an interesting player for teams to try and digest as they prepare to make their big offers. Moustakas missed almost all of the 2016 season with a knee injury. Prior to the injury, it had taken him four full years to establish himself as a useful big leaguer. Moustakas hit .236/.290/.379 for the first four seasons of his career.
It will be up to superagent Scott Boras to sell Moustakas as a sustained power threat capable of hitting over 35 home runs year in and year out. Getting away from pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City would certainly help make that a reality. Look for Boras to use Justin Turner’s four-year, $64-million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers last year as a starting point for Moustakas. At 29, he should be trying for five or six years, but the AAV feels right.
As a player, Moustakas does have his flaws. His defense is limited, he hardly ever walks and his power surge may have been created by the questionable baseballs more than anything else. The home run has been devalued by the fact that almost everyone swinging a bat in an MLB game could hit 20 in a given season. Even so, Boras will find a way to package and market Moustakas and get him plenty of money. These five teams should lead the bidding for the two-time All-Star.
5. Philadelphia Phillies
Maikel Franco was supposed to be the future for the Philadelphia Phillies at third base, but he has not developed into a superstar in his four seasons in the league. Franco actually took a step back at the plate in 2017 after teasing a breakout by hitting 25 home runs in 2016. The 25-year-old hit only .230/.281/.409 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI last season.
Franco is not making progress at the plate and dropped all the way to -0.2 bWAR in 2017. In only 80 games in his age-22 season, Franco had been worth 1.7 bWAR. The young third baseman still has value and could be used in part of a package if the Phillies make a serious push for Miami Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton. If that happens, Moustakas could make sense as the replacement in Philadelphia. The Phillies are a longshot to acquire Stanton, as he prefers Los Angeles, so it follows that Moustakas is a longshot to end up in the City of Brotherly Love.