Mike Moustakas did not sign with the White Sox.
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.
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.
- Spring training hitter rate stats through March 7 — Shop Talk
- You’ll never guess what’s happening in spring training — FanGraphs
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:
BHP debate: Was #Royals Soler HR a. 91 mph CT that didn’t cut, Firm CH, or FB he took a lot off on? Rough look for Kopech today.
— John T Eshleman (@John_Eshleman) March 8, 2018
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.