Following suit with the rest of the league, Mike Moustakas went off in the power department last season, besting his previous career-high home-run total by 16. His hard-hit rate actually fell nearly six percentage points to 31.9 percent, but Moustakas got the ball in the air more often -- his flyball rate jumped from 39.6 percent to 45.7 percent -- and that was the driving force behind the homer spike. He was also a far more aggressive hitter, upping his Swing% from 42.1 percent to 55.6 percent, and while that led to a precipitous drop in walk rate, the new approach proved beneficial on the whole. The 29-year-old improved against same-handed pitching, batting .270/.296/.467 against lefties (.241/.291/.396 for career) and kept his contact rate over 80 percent. It may very well prove to be his career year, but a move to a more hitter-friendly home park should keep Moustakas' production from falling off too much.
Moustakas declined the Royals' qualifying offer and became a free agent Thursday, Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times reports. Although it was expected that Moustakas would reject Kansas City's offer, the news was made official just ahead of Thursday's deadline. The third baseman will look for a large multi-year offer after slashing .272/.314/.521 with 38 home runs and 85 RBI last season.
The Royals made a qualifying offer to Moustakas prior to Monday's deadline, the Kansas City Star reports. It's expected that Moustakas will turn down the $17.4 million offer for 2018 and ink a multi-year deal this winter. Whether he, Eric Hosmer or Lorenzo Cain end up returning to Kansas City on a long-term deal is very much up in the air at this point. The Royals will receive a pick after the end of the first round of the 2018 first-year player draft if Moustakas inks a deal with another club worth $50 million or more, while they'll receive a compensatory pick after the second round if the new contract is worth less than $50 million.
Moustakas went 3-for-4 in Friday's 2-1 win over the Diamondbacks. With only three home runs in 82 at-bats in September, Moustakas' power production has dipped down the stretch, but it's still been enough for him to establish a new franchise record with 38 long balls on the campaign. The third baseman is at least helping fantasy owners down the stretch in the batting-average department, with his three hits Friday bringing his mark up to .324 over his last 10 contests.
Moustakas is not in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Tigers, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. Moustakas heads to the bench in favor of Cheslor Cuthbert as manager Ned Yost begins the process of giving some regulars the day off following the Royals' elimination from playoff contention. Over the course of the season, Moustakas has slashed .271/.314/.523 with a franchise-record 38 home runs to go along with 85 RBI.
Moustakas is expected sit Thursday's game against the Tigers, Josh Vernier of 610 Sports reports. With the Royals out of the playoff picture, manager Ned Yost will afford a few of his starters a day off as the season winds down. It will be Moustakas' final day off of 2017, as he's expected to start all three games against the Diamondbacks over the weekend. The 29-year-old has enjoyed a breakout season in which he's hit .271/.312/.526 with 38 homers in 143 games.