Spare Parts: Mike Moustakas returns to Royals(Keith Allison / Flickr)

Spare Parts: Mike Moustakas returns to Royals

Mike Moustakas did not sign with the White Sox.

Yet.

The Royals’ former third baseman is now their present third baseman, as Moustakas returned to Kansas City on a deal well short of the $17.4 million qualifying offer that would’ve led to the same result. This deal only guarantees him $6.5 million — a $5.5 million salary for 2018 with a $1 million buyout for 2019 (or a $15 million mutual option, which is almost always a way to defer a little money). He can also make an extra $2.2 million in incentives.

It’s a shockingly low deal, especially considering Moustakas was expected to easily clear the $50 million threshold required for the Royals to gain a draft pick. His market fell out from underneath him instead. The Giants traded for a third baseman, the Angels signed a shortstop and moved him to third (corrected), and the Mets signed Todd Frazier, leaving a bunch of teams that didn’t need to invest in the position for one reason (already had an adequate third baseman) or another (teams were too bad).

Moustakas could’ve waited for a team to lose a third baseman, but signing during the season didn’t work out so well for other Scott Boras clients like Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. He’s willing to take the loss and take another run at free agency, and Royals get another shot at finding a deadline deal to their liking in another walk year.

For the moment, the Royals are charting somewhat of an old-school course for their rebuild. They haven’t made any major commitments to free agents, but they’ve signed MLB talent when they didn’t have to. Both Moustakas and Lucas Duda both have some upside on one-year deals, and there’s Alcides Escobar.

It could be enough to nudge the Royals ahead of the White Sox in the AL Central standings, especially if Bruce Rondon’s purpose pitch is the reason why Moustakas tailed off, which is what this Kansas City Star column suggests. The White Sox appeared to be climbing into a 70something win projection while the Royals resigned themselves to a win total in the 60s, but now they look like they’re in the same neighborhood.

More relevant to the White Sox’ long-term interests, Moustakas should re-enter free agency next year, and the Royals won’t be able to extend him a qualifying offer again. That should help him find a multi-year deal, even if he’s a notch below Josh Donaldson among true third basemen, and also Manny Machado if he’s willing to move back from shortstop.

This could put him back in the White Sox’ rumor orbit, especially now that Jake Burger is missing all of 2018 with a ruptured Achilles. Then again, if Yolmer Sanchez provides a similar value over another whole season, there will be a bunch of White Sox fans who will remain confused over the fascination.

Spare Parts

Speaking of Sanchez, Paul Sullivan’s article captures his strange place in this rebuild. At 25, he’s old enough to not be considered one of the kids, but he’s also young (and small) enough that Tim Anderson refers to him as his “little brother.” Anderson is a year younger than Sanchez.

Walk, strikeout and power rates are up across the league, and Jeff Sullivan’s analysis of leaguewide trends pairs well with jorgefabregas’ post summing up how White Sox hitters are faring in this category.

Michael Kopech couldn’t locate anything in a start against Kansas City, allowing eight of 14 hitters to reach base. It’s not bad to take a beating this time of year, especially when it’s a pitcher many assume can step into the majors on Opening Day. This assumes Kopech makes his next start, and that’s not a given based on the White Sox’ luck with prospects this spring. That this was a fastball causes some concern:

Kopech said, “It’s probably the slowest fastball I’ve thrown since I was 17 years old, just trying to get a ball over the plate.”

ParisSox dropped the link here, but if you missed it, I recommend you read Wright Thompson’s piece on what drives Ichiro Suzuki to play baseball until he dies.

 


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katiesphil
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katiesphil

Thanks Jim and PS for the Ichiro link. Started it, but will have to wait for lunch to finish. So far, fascinating.

Lurker Laura
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Lurker Laura

I, too, am reading it sporadically in between work. It’s outstanding.

patrickcroberts
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patrickcroberts

This line is stunning, “He now opens his hips and shows his chest to the pitcher earlier. “His eyesight is deteriorating,” Okumura says. “He’s trying to adjust to survive. He knows his death as a baseball player is getting closer.”

Lurker Laura
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Lurker Laura

Or this one: “Like nearly all obsessive people, Ichiro finds some sort of safety in his patterns. He goes up to the plate with a goal in mind, and if he accomplishes that goal, then he is at peace for a few innings.”

katiesphil
Member
katiesphil

Just finished the article. Bleak within the greatness. I admire him and am really glad I am not him.

mikeyb
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mikeyb

I read the article yesterday, and this is the perfect 2 sentence summary. I can’t remember the last time I came away from an article so entertained and so sad at the same time.

Lurker Laura
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Lurker Laura

Agree with all of these thoughts. It’s a fantastically written article about a man I knew nothing about beyond the numbers. It’s left me melancholy.

ParisSox
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ParisSox

I see similarities in Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson stories.  

asinwreck
Member
asinwreck

The detail about Robert Whiting catching the comment “He is a liar” Ichiro made about his father and realizing he was not joking underscores how important it is to have journalists who can speak the same language as the players. 

35Shields
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35Shields

The Angels didn’t trade for a third baseman. They traded for a second baseman (Kinsler) and signed a third baseman (Cozart).

35Shields
Member
35Shields

We keep talking about Sanchez, but how do the Sox handle him?

Obviously, if he exceeds expectations and is at least average then the Sox keep him. If he’s replacement level, then they don’t.

What if he just hits his projections? His average projection between ZiPS, Steamer and PECOTA is 0.9 WAR. If he hits that exactly, do the Sox give up on him as a starter and just keep him around as a solid bench player?

PauliePaulie
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PauliePaulie

I believe no matter how he performs his ultimate fate is as part of a trade package. Too many factors dictate when, exactly, that will occur.

yinkadoubledare
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yinkadoubledare

We know he can play good defense at 2nd and 3rd. I think he could probably play a solid SS if our starter gets injured. Unless his bat is a black hole, that seems like a useful guy to have around even as they move into the contention window (and he’s under control through the 2021 season).

PauliePaulie
Member
PauliePaulie

That’s what will give him value on the trade market.

35Shields
Member
35Shields

1 win players who are already arb-eligible aren’t that valuable

PauliePaulie
Member
PauliePaulie

That’s why he’s part of a package deal. But I also think he’s more than a 1 WIN player, and better splits vs. RHP also helps.

Greg Nix
Editor

I don’t know what he could bring back that’s more helpful to the rebuild than his own skills, especially with the lack of infield depth in the upper minors.

PauliePaulie
Member
PauliePaulie

We value him differently. Also, not having an immediate or obvious high performing replacement is part of a rebuild. For me this spring has shown the need to continue with prospect acquisition over keeping second tier talent or “bridge” guys.

35Shields
Member
35Shields

And who exactly is lining up to trade prospects for those second tier talent or “bridge” guys?

PauliePaulie
Member
PauliePaulie

Would depend on the type of season he’s having. MLBTR recap from last July has Alex Avila + to the Cubs, Frazier + to the Yanks, Howie Kendrick to the Nats or Tim Beckham to the Orioles as potential comps.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Shoulda kept Jake Peter, I guess.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

I think they just go year-to-year with him. By the time he’s pushed to a lesser role, he’ll be an important depth piece that they probably won’t want to lose (look at the dearth of interesting middle infielders in the high minors). He’s probably more valuable to the Sox than he would ever be in trade.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Agreed, not to mention he’s the affable sort of fellow who can help keep a clubhouse tightly knit as well as a good ambassador for the team. His bit with Benetti playing FIFA Soccer last season was pretty hilarious.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Steamer has him at 0.9 WAR in 440 PAs. ZiPS gives him 1.4 WAR in 539 PAs. I think they’re also projecting him for different positions, as the former projects him for slightly lesser offensive stats but somehow a better offensive value projection. Either way, the general consensus seems to be that if he receives a full season of plate appearances (say in the 550-600 range), he’d be an adequate if underwhelming player (around 1.5 WAR), and I think they’re a bit conservative on his defense.

gibby32
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gibby32

I enjoy anything that results in Boras taking his lumps. The fact that Moustakas lost 10M is attributable to nothing but Boras. He should fire him.

mikeyb
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mikeyb

Out of curiosity, why don’t you like Boras? I’m a fan, as he’s arguably done more for getting money from the hands of the owners to the hands of players than the players union has over the past 20 years. And his quotes are always batshit insane and hilarious.

SonOfCron
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SonOfCron

His heavily implied claims of collusion all offseason didn’t do him any favors in the likeability department.

gibby32
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gibby32

First, it’s silly to claim that he has done more than the players’ union. They have negotiated on behalf of hundreds, while Boras represents a small subset of the players. The dramatic increases in salaries across the board are a function of the union, although Boras and other agents have played a subsidiary role. Boras hogs the headlines because he tends to disproportionately represent big names. Second, Boras has badly represented his second tier players, not allowing them to sign early deals that would give up free-agent years, at least on some occasions against their interest. He does so, in my opinion, risking their interest in order to enhance his own reputation as a guy who gets top dollar. Moustakas might be an example, but it’s hard to say for sure without information that we don’t have. Third, during the period when there were much greater revenue differences among the teams, he would promote the big money teams getting the top players. I admit that was his job to get top dollar for his clients. But it exacerbated competitive imbalance, which, as a fan of the equivalent of a mid-market team, pissed me off.

PauliePaulie
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PauliePaulie

A deal that made sense for the Royals, and only the Royals. Hope the Sox continue to avoid him in the future.
Donaldson can be the bridge to Gormsn.

Lurker Laura
Member
Lurker Laura

These prospects need to stop worrying me! 91 mph fastballs from Kopech worries me. I don’t expect him to be dominant every time out, of course, but I expect his struggles to come with lack of command, or his 2nd/3rd pitches not working – not because his fastball is 91mph.

Stop worrying me!

Trooper Galactus
Member

Don’t worry, his hair is still healthy and flowing.

Greg Nix
Editor

One thought I had on 3B that I’m curious to get opinions about: I wonder if the Sox would consider Brian Dozier should they miss out on Machado. He’s never played third in the majors, but assuming the defense is playable (i.e. he has enough of an arm) he’s a much better, more consistent player than Moustakas and should come cheaper than Donaldson. 

Right Size Wrong Shape
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Right Size Wrong Shape

I was thinking about the same thing last night (although I probably just saw you or someone else pose this idea earlier). I think this has some merit.

GrinnellSteve
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GrinnellSteve

Interesting notion, but Yolmer can more than hold it down until Burger’s ROY campaign in 2020.

katiesphil
Member
katiesphil

Burger or not, I think the situation simply remains fluid this year while we all see what Yolmer is capable of there full-time. If he’s a bust or regresses, then that suggests certain directions. If he progresses, that suggests another. If he stays as-is, then the state of the team around him will suggest yet others.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

I know your comment is an exaggeration, but Jake Burger isn’t the type of prospect you build your major league moves around.

GrinnellSteve
Member
GrinnellSteve

The ROY may be modest hyperbole, but I fully anticipate Yolmer holding down 3B over the next two years, and I think Burger will be ready to step in after that. Now, if they have the chance to get Machado to play third or pick up Donaldson on a short deal or get Arenado the next year, all bets are off. I don’t think they will overpay for someone’s decline phase just to make incremental gains.

Trooper Galactus
Member

You think Burger will be ready to step in after two more years? Year one he won’t be playing, and year two he’d have to return from a long layoff and advance three levels in a single season. That’s probably way too optimistic an outlook, though I’d love to see it play out that way.

GrinnellSteve
Member
GrinnellSteve

He’ll be back in the fall. I love his work ethic. He’s going to rise quickly once he’s healthy and has seen some pitches.

Trooper Galactus
Member

2020 was optimistic even before his injury. Right now it’s borderline unrealistic.

PauliePaulie
Member
PauliePaulie

I’d hope they avoid the second and third tiers. If they see the FA market as too costly, they should have built up the prospect capital to acquire a superior long-term piece.

Greg Nix
Editor

I know what you’re saying, but Dozier isn’t really second or third-tier in my mind. He’s one of the best infielders in the game.

Fangraphs and BR both have him averaging ~4.75 wins per season over the last four years. That’s about a win better per year than Todd Frazier when the Sox acquired him. Dozier’s an annual All-Star level player, but is underrated as a result of playing for Der Twain, which is what might help keep his cost at a reasonable level.

Trooper Galactus
Member

He’ll be 31 when he hits free agency, right? Might not be a terrible bet on a four year deal. Very good all around player.

L2R
Member
L2R

I like Sanchez but asking him to become a playoff caliber 3rd baseman is asking quite a bit from him but hope he does.

Moos made sense to me if he is a plus in the clubhouse and would have willingly mentored Sanchez.
Especially when he knows how to win rings.
I like adding 1 or 2 wins in our column while subtracting 1 or 2 from KC’s.
Made sense to me before the burger hit the floor and made more sense now.
Hope the injury bug has moved to, I don’t know, how about Cleveland and Sanchez proves that sabermetrics can’t measure heart.

Pablo Manuel
Member
Pablo Manuel

No body is asking Yolmer to be a Playoff caliber player. Just to be a bridge until Whitesox get someone in FA or a prospect like Burger comes up. I still believe that Moose wasn’t the correct guy. Moose can hit dingers but that’s all, he is a poor defender.

Trooper Galactus
Member

I didn’t think Moose was a poor defender so much as average, but his OBP historically has been somewhat worrisome. He doesn’t seem to be a guy with a lot separating him from a performance cliff.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Sanchez is 26 and has spent all or parts of four seasons in the major leagues. He doesn’t need Mike Moustakas to be a mentor. He needs Mike Moustakas to be in Kansas City.

Pablo Manuel
Member
Pablo Manuel

I’m just saying that I don’t see a huge improvement getting Moose. Yolmer can do a better defensive job and Davidson hit the dingers. White sox are not going to make the playoffs this year with or without Moose.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

My reply was to L2R, not you. I agree with you.

Pablo Manuel
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Pablo Manuel

Mine too, I clicked on the wrong reply button, hahaha

L2R
Member
L2R

We can argue about Moos but neither of us know what kind of year he will have until September and yeah, Hate me if you like, I would like to see some more dingers this year.

I doubt Sanchez is our long term fix at 3rd so why just sit and do nothing to make it better? As you said, he has 4 years experience so I am assuming he has hit the ceiling.
Burger is so far away. I think bridging or waiting is lazy or cheap.

If I were to describe a healthy, club built for long term success, I would include current veterans who know how to win championships, players ready to be woven in at the major league level and prospects under development. So I see we have 1 of the 3 necessary components in place, maybe 2 if you believe in our scouting and development group.

You are welcome to patiently wait and wait we will.

My vote is to get a couple of veterans on the cheap, make a run at the playoffs, like a team should strive to do every year and continue to bring on the stars of the future.

If this is the grand plan, to build, tear down and build again then we will have 2 years to cheer and 5 to wait, rinse and repeat. And that is why I want a couple more proven pieces now, for the short term. I am ok with the 2017 reset but they need to finish the grand plan and put all the pieces in place else they will follow KC in their footsteps.

.

Right Size Wrong Shape
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Right Size Wrong Shape

You obviously aren’t familiar with the TWTW metric.

As Cirensica
Member
As Cirensica

That Ichiro article was a fascinating reading. I recommend it. To some degree, and keeping the distances, Ichiro and I have more in common than I would have expected. We are both a bit obsessive in regards to certain daily routines.

I can relate to Ichiro’s habits. I am a creature of habit. For example, I eat breakfast at the same time, the same breakfast every day for the last who knows years. Always with music in the background (Without music, I can’t eat). I always put personal things in the same place. My wallet goes here (and nowhere else). Like in Ichiro’s bat story, one time my brother was living with me, and moved my wallet slightly off the place I always put it. Next morning I told him not to do that again. My car keys always hangs in the same spot. My CDs go into the same spot in the CD racks (You move it and I will notice). My house things rarely changes. Tables, chairs, paintings, photographs, etc remain in the same place for years.

Lurker Laura
Member
Lurker Laura

The stuff about his relationship with his father is heartbreaking. 

lil jimmy
Member
lil jimmy

Plus, you only shop at the Piggly Wiggly, for only Spanish wine,

As Cirensica
Member
As Cirensica

Nope…no Piggly Wiggly in Canada

orrrr

did I miss a joke here?

Trooper Galactus
Member

“Describe Kermit’s wedding night.”

“Piggly Wiggly.”

Ted Mulvey
Editor

Okay, that got a laugh out of me.

Trooper Galactus
Member

An old Great Karnak sketch.

Josh Nelson
Editor

For Monday’s podcast, we are previewing the 2018 Outfielders. If you’d like to participate in our survey, fill out the form below:

katiesphil
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katiesphil

Thanks. I replied optimistically, so I hope I’m right.

Lurker Laura
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Lurker Laura

I was ridiculously, but not surprisingly, very optimistic about Nicky D 🙂 Tired to be realistic about everyone else.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

MrTopaz
Member
MrTopaz

I’m surprised I haven’t seen the “The Royals held an anti-porn workshop, but none of the players ‘synonym for showed up'” joke, and I can’t tell if it’s because I’ve just been missing it, or it’s so trite/off color that I’m the only one who gets a laugh out of it.

Or maybe people just don’t want to think about Mike Moustakas in that light.

Gus
Member
Gus

good old plunkeveryone must be having himself a fine time this spring.