MLB trade rumors: Phillies, Cardinals reportedly in on Royals' Mike Moustakas
The veteran third baseman seems likely to be moved before the deadline
Veteran third baseman Mike Moustakas is on a bargain contract with the notably terrible Royals, and that in tandem with his left-handed power and ability to pin down the hot corner make him a notable name as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. Indeed, the Moustakas rumors are already percolating.
According to a baseball source, Phillies and Royals officials have had discussions about Moustakas and Royals scouts have been peeking in on prospects in the Phillies' minor-league system in advance of a possible deal.
That makes sense. The Phillies are in contention at the halfway point of the season, and they have enough tradable assets to swing such a deal. They've also received slightly below-average production from their third basemen this season, and infielder J.P. Crawford is out with a hand fracture. Incumbent third baseman Maikel Franco has himself been the subject of trade rumors, but would the Phillies consider a platoon arrangement with Moustakas being the primary half?
Elsewhere, Ken Rosenthal in his latest notes column at The Athletic names the Cardinals as having interest in Moustakas. St. Louis has been linked to Moustakas in the recent past, including this past offseason when he was still on the market. Acquiring Moustakas, though, would create a pretty crowded corner infield situation, what with Matt Carpenter, Jose Martinez, and Jedd Gyorko already on the active roster.
As Rosenthal notes, part of the motivation may be to get Martinez off first base, where he's very likely the worst defender in baseball. The problem, though, is that Martinez has been the Cardinals' most reliable hitter in 2018. Trading him away -- likely in an entirely different trade -- would take a bite out out an offense that's struggled with consistency all year. Sure, Moustakas would add some thump, but Martinez is a substantially better hitter.
As for Moustakas, this season he's batting .258/.313/.467 (113 OPS+) with 15 home runs in 79 games. He's coming off a 2017 season in which he tallied 38 homers, but even then he had on-base issues. The sock is real, but his numbers have been trending downward since a hot start to the season. He's owed the balance of a $5.5 million salary for 2018, and his contract includes a $15 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout for 2019.
It seems likely that Moustakas will be playing elsewhere by the time the calendar flips to August, but because of the flaws in his game he's best suited to a contender with a real hole at third base. That doesn't necessarily describe the Phillies or Cardinals, despite their reported interest.
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