The #RedSox and #Braves are both interested in Mike Moustakas as a trade deadline acquisition, sources say. The #Yankees have already been mentioned as a potential landing spot. There's enough of a market for Moose that it's more likely than not the Royals deal him this month.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 15, 2018
Moustakas, who returned to the Royals in February on a one-year, $6.5 million contract with a $15 million option for next year after failing to generate much interest on the free-agent market, has been one of the most discussed trade candidates this season as the Royals have struggled and begun a rebuilding project. He hasn’t exactly boosted his value this summer; after posting a .914 OPS prior to May 1 and a .776 OPS in May, he’s struggled to a .665 OPS in June and a .627 clip in that category so far in July. He has hit for above-average power, however — he has 19 homers in 386 plate appearances.
Since he’s unlikely to bring back much of a return in a trade and has no obvious replacement waiting behind him, he’d also be a worthwhile candidate for an extension in Kansas City — the only city he’s ever played in during his eight-year career — but with the Royals seemingly looking to strengthen their depleted farm system however possible this year, it appears more likely than not that he’ll be moved at the deadline.
The Yankees have already been discussed as a potential landing spot for the lefty hitter, though they’d likely utilize him at first base, where he only has four games of major-league experience, all of which have come this year. He’d likely continue to play his natural position of third base in Boston or Atlanta, both of which have All-Star first basemen in Mitch Moreland and Freddie Freeman.
Moustakas could provide protection to a Red Sox team that has gotten inconsistent results from second-year third baseman Rafael Devers this season. In contrast to Moustakas, who has had more of a linear regression, Devers’ success has been totally random this year: he had a .739 OPS before May 1, a .672 OPS in May, a season-best .815 in June, and a disastrous .437 OPS this month before he went on the DL with shoulder inflammation (which is only expected to keep him out for 10 days). But’s debatable if the Red Sox, who are on pace to blow past the competitive-balance tax threshold, will be comfortable adding another player with a multi-million-dollar salary before the deadline.
Moustakas would seemingly provide only a small upgrade — if he even provides an upgrade at all — at third base for the Braves, who have 24-year-old Johan Camargo at the position. Like Moustakas, Camargo has cooled off a bit as the season has gone on, but he still has a solid .248/.346/.423 slash line with nine homers in 263 plate appearances, and he’s a better defender than Moustakas. But it’s understandable if Atlanta is looking for a more experienced player that’s won a World Series as they prepare for their first crack at postseason play since 2013.