On Sunday, Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas collided while chasing a popup. We already learned that Alex Gordon will miss 3-4 weeks with a broken wrist, but today the news got much worse for the Kansas City Royals. Now that the swelling has subsided, it’s clear that Moustakas has a torn ACL in his right knee. Ned Yost says that he’ll miss the rest of the season.
The Royals were already in trouble in a tightly bunched American League Central, where they were 24-22 and two games back of the division-leading Chicago White Sox. Moustakas, who had just returned from a fractured thumb, leaves the replacement-level Cheslor Cuthbert as the presumptive third baseman and the Royals incredibly short-handed on the infield.
Moustakas has worked hard to turn himself into one of the better third basemen in baseball after years of underperforming. He’s hit .277/.340/..475 since the start of 2015, with 29 homers and a 119 OPS+. He’s also a plus defender at third base.
With both Gordon and Moustakas on the shelf, the starting rotation hurt and/or scuffling, and with their playoff odds dipping down to 12 percent according to Baseball Prospectus, maybe the Royals will decide to just wait and see if they will need to pack it in. It certainly seem that the defending champs are on the ropes. Still, I’ve learned not to count out the Royals over the last couple years.
If the Royals hope to hang in the race, they will almost certainly have to look outward for solutions to this hole. Fortunately, there’s a glut of potential replacements out there right now. The Twins could be ready to move Trevor Plouffe to put a merciful end to the “Miguel Sano, Professional Right Fielder, Experiment.” The Brewers would presumably be happy to move Aaron Hill. The Braves don’t really need Gordon Beckham, nor do the Padres need to hang onto Yangervis Solarte. The A’s could also try to get something for former Royal Danny Valencia. Even the Pirates might be willing to part with David Freese for some starting pitching help.
Still, this is a devastating blow to their chances in 2016.