White Sox rumors: Mike Moustakas, and for longer than you think

With the third baseman running out of suitors, Jon Morosi suggests the White Sox sign him for more than a rebound

Tuesday afternoon, Jon Morosi formally put the White Sox into a rumor mill with a post that positioned the Sox, as well as the Yankees, to take advantage of Mike Moustakas’ flagging market.

Well, kinda. The way Morosi put it, the teams would take advantage of Moustakas’ lack of suitors by creating a long-term fit for him, rather than merely trying to get him on a rebound deal.

One National League executive said Monday that the Yankees and White Sox have the best chances to land Moustakas, based on current market conditions. The Royals also could re-sign Moustakas, although their front office is prepared to start rebuilding with younger players. Some within the industry see the Cardinals as a fit for Moustakas, but they appear comfortable with incumbent third baseman Jedd Gyorko, who hit 50 home runs over the past two seasons.

The White Sox want to add a long-term third baseman in the next 12 months and could seize the opportunity to sign Moustakas now, rather than pursue free agents Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson during the 2018-19 offseason. Third base is the rare position at which the White Sox haven’t procured an elite prospect in trades over the past couple years.

Shortly after this thought went live, the Yankees acquired third baseman Brandon Drury in a three-team deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks. Drury doesn’t quite replicate Moustakas’ production, but he gives the Yankees a decent bat (.275/.323/.453 the last two years), as well as depth at both second as well as third, so it reduces any urgency.

The Yankees could still use Moustakas, but they don’t need him. For one, they might look at Drury as somebody who can bust out with everyday at-bats. If an above-average utility infielder is indeed his Drury’s lane, top prospect Gleyber Torres could be able to step into one of those positions for good at some point during the first half.

So that theoretically leaves the White Sox as the team that could integrate Moustakas most seamlessly (Morosi also mentions the Cardinals, but Jedd Gyorko has been fine there). The rub here is that Yolmer Sanchez might’ve been a better overall player in terms of Wins Above Replacement last season:

  • Sanchez: 3.5 bWAR; 2.1 fWAR
  • Moustakas: 1.8 bWAR; 2.2 fWAR

That assessment comes down to whether you believe in one season of defensive metrics (and only a partial season for Sanchez at third). In terms of offense, there’s a clear distinction, even with Sanchez closing the gap in September.

  • Sanchez: .313 wOBA; 94 wRC+
  • Moustakas: .345 wOBA; 114 wRC+

I think Sanchez can be an above-average third baseman over the course of the season, but Moustakas has also played that part, too, and it’s too early to peg him for a decline. Todd Frazier experienced a similar metric blip in his first year with the White Sox, but he bounced back to be a strong defender at third base in 2017.

I’m comfortable guessing that Moustakas will be a level above Sanchez as an everyday third baseman in 2018. That has its own benefits, but adding Moustakas in particular gives the Sox balance in the middle of the order, and also theoretically prevents a cascade failure at third base if Sanchez encountered the Peter Principle as an everyday option (Matt Davidson is the only other player on paper who can prevent a roster landslide there).

For a one- or two-year deal, the question is whether these benefits to the White Sox outweigh discovering Sanchez’s ceiling, as well as forfeiting their second-round pick. I’d lean toward a boatload of Yolmer for what should be the last rebuilding year, but I’d enjoy a better White Sox team at a not-tremendous cost, as it’s similar to the Welington Castillo signing. Royals fans would also cringe at the sight of Moustakas in Chicago, if the reactions to this tweet can be extrapolated. It’s a simple philosophical divide, all in all.

I hadn’t really anticipated Morosi’s idea of the White Sox signing Moustakas to a long-term contract, and I can understand the rationale to a certain extent. Maybe the Sox solve a position a year earlier than expected while bidding against nobody (especially if his defense rebounds to historical levels), freeing up resources to pursue other solutions.

But that’d require the White Sox to have ironed out the pro-scouting issues that kneecapped just about all of their previous attempts to solve holes with secondary free agents, and I have little faith in them here, especially since other teams with better track records found third basemen elsewhere this winter. Botching a long-term signing at this point greatly reduces the margin for error before the framework is even truly in place. (And not to mention it gives the Royals a fifth first-day draft pick.)

I imagine the White Sox believe in themselves more than I do, so the fear of failure alone wouldn’t stop them from going hard for Moustakas. It’s probably the other parts — belief in Sanchez, belief in Jake Burger, and/or conserving all draft picks in order to stock the cupboard during what they hope is their last time in the top five.

Rick Hahn talked about it without talking about it, but if you want an official reaction, here one is:

“We’re having conversations with other clubs and obviously there are still a few free agents floating around, but we’re preparing right now as if we’ll choose the 25 from the group in camp right now,” Hahn said. […]

“Certainly, if the opportunity rises to come up with another piece that fits for the long term we won’t hesitate to move on that,” Hahn said. “And, if for whatever reason, we see the opportunity to round out the roster a little bit in a way that makes sense … then we’ll certainly move on it.”

 

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Patrick Nolan

Rick Hahn is a master of GM-speak platitudes.

KenWo4LiFe

Part of the reason I miss Kenny

karkovice squad

They gotta teach you something in business school.

Josh Nelson

Whoops.

Right Size Wrong Shape

This appears to be a thing with their top pitching prospects.

LeftistLefty-Righty

50 games? It’s probably just marijuana

yinkadoubledare

They usually specify either “drug of abuse” (but don’t say what the specific drug is; that category includes weed) or stimulant when they’ve issued suspensions previously, a little surprised they didn’t here.

PauliePaulie

Please, No. It’s too damn soon to be giving up draft picks again. Especially on 2nd tier talent like Moustakas. When the time is right Machado, Donaldson, Rendon, Arenado or trade for a young controllable top tier talent.

Josh Nelson

How would people feel about a deal like this:

Mike Moustakas’ Contract Estimate — 5 yr / $80.0 M
Year Age WAR $/WAR Est. Contract
2018 29 2.6 $8.0 M $20.8 M
2019 30 2.6 $8.0 M $20.8 M
2020 31 2.1 $8.0 M $16.8 M
2021 32 1.6 $8.0 M $12.8 M
2022 33 1.1 $8.0 M $8.8 M
Totals 10.0 $80.0 M

Assumptions

Value: $8M/WAR with 0.0% inflation (for first 5 years)
Aging Curve: +0.25 WAR/yr (18-27), 0 WAR/yr (28-30),-0.5 WAR/yr (31-37),-0.75 WAR/yr (> 37)

seven11

I’d feel better about it than Scott Boras would.

Patrick Nolan

No thanks. This is exactly the type of player to whom the White Sox should avoid over-committing.

They hard-capped themselves on the last rebuild by signing players that were expected to be average (Robertson, Melky, LaRoche). Even if all three of those players DID turn out to be average, they left themselves without a budget to do much else. I don’t want Moustakas’s $16M-ish salary on the books each year from 2020-2022.

The White Sox need to put all of their resources toward signing someone from the Machado tier. No more Melkys, no more $15M-ish salaries for average guys.

Josh Nelson

This is Jerry Reinsdorf’s wallet we are talking about. You’ll get your $15M-ish salaries for average players AND LIKE IT!

But I agree with you. Let’s see if Jerry can surprise us like he did with Luis Robert.

Soxfan2

Agreed 100%.

Career .305 OBP and .315 Woba.
Declining defense.

No thanks.

karkovice squad

That’s where I’m at, too.

They don’t get that deal without opt-outs. That would mean a contract structure that makes no sense for them right now with how opt-outs add even more pressure to make use of the surplus value at the beginning of a deal. Then add in the opportunity cost of both not seeing what Yolmer can do over a full season and adding hurdles to signing better free agents.

Glover Not a Fighter

OBP problem. Anyone else concerned that he looks, well, fat…

MrTopaz

Hey, we’ve already got that guy in the system.

gibby32

I want Yolmer; I don’t want Moustakas.

katiesphil

Yep. I didn’t want Squirrel, don’t want Moose.

MonicaMG

Same. I want to know how far can Yolmer get in the position

El Senor

5/$80M doesn’t make sense to me.  3/$48M does. It doesn’t look like he will have many options.  Gives time for Burger to develop, and under $50M doesn’t cost as much in the draft.  

PauliePaulie

Sox lose the same pick and bonus $ no matter how much the contract is for. Signing amount only affects what pick the Royals get. They aren’t “swapping” picks.

El Senor

Then I’m out.  Thanks for the explanation.

karkovice squad

I’d lean toward a boatload of Yolmer for what should be the last rebuilding year

Either the conventional wisdom has shifted or Jim is just demonstrating his mastery at camouflaging controversial takes inside less controversial takes.

Patrick Nolan

quit equivocating and own the clickbait

Otter

Assuming the Sox will have another top five pick in the 2019 draft, giving up the 2nd round pick, around pick #45 might be worth hanging on to if it isn’t Harper/Moncado? Will people be upset if the Sox give up the 45th pick to sign, say, Dozier to play third?

PauliePaulie

The Dozier who’s put up 12fWAR+ more than Moustakas over the last 4 years?

Otter

Well I don’t think the Sox should be giving up the 45th pick for Moustakas, so…

zerobs

I would be upset. I like Dozier but he’d be 32. Changing positions and beginning his decline years. Sounds like the same logic that signed Melky.

I wonder why agents all recommended turning down the QO. It’s $17 million and you can’t get QO’d again – seems like a no-brainer for all but the Harpers and Machados of the world. Maybe Cain would have a tough decision but for anyone that hasn’t put up a 4 WAR in the last 2 years just take the $17 million and try for a bounceback campaign.

billyok

/MichaelScottSeesTobyAndYellsNooooooooooooo.gif

No no no no no please no. Don’t stunt potential growth for a win or two! 

Otter

I thought I could talk myself into this, but I haven’t been able to. While I somewhat buy Moustakas’ power, he’s not very good at getting on base and carries a questionable glove after tearing his ACL. At 29 his age isn’t necessarily prohibitive, but the injury scares me… a poor defensive third baseman who can’t get on base is less than ideal. There’s no point to give him a short term deal as it will cost them a draft pick.

At the same time, I don’t think the Sox will win a Machado bidding war, and I’m starting to lean towards not wanting them to win a Donaldson bidding war. So we’ve got a problem at third base.

I’m bearish on Yolmer, and we could be sitting here a year from now trying to figure out if Burger fits in the rebuild (we also could be counting the days until he’s called up in July). But there should be guys who can play an average third base (or better) available in a year, this might be the position where the Sox trade a prospect or two to fill the need rather than do it through free agency or the farm system. Or even wait a year and see if they can sign Anthony Rendon after the 2019 season.

johnnyg83

Mouse is a fan favorite here and fun to watch. But his body type is ripe for explosion once he signs a LT deal and he’s been known around KC as “not afraid” when it comes to hitting the nightspots.

KenWo4LiFe

He hits the night spots! I’m all in

johnnyg83

May I ask if you have a “No Fear” tank top?

karkovice squad

In colors matching his vintage Detroit Tigers Zubaz.

Otter

Jordan didn’t shy away from the night life.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Danks?

winningugly

I bet he and Rondon would be a blast together at a bar.

Milky✌️

I would maybe, maybe go for this as a hedge against Yolmer/Burger’s development (and renisdorf losing out on next year’s sweepstakes), if it were just the relatively modest contract. The pick kills whatever little enthusiasm I had left. It’s a marginal improvement (and declining), a year or two before it’s truly needed.

I actually feel safer sticking with Yolmer and whatever small chances the Sox have of getting a big name next year.

katiesphil

I say let others fight over and end up with Machado and Donaldson next year, then swoop in and pay Arenando in 2020. Unless Yolmer turns into Arenado in the meantime. That would be even better, if pushing into a fantasy realm.

Milky✌️

I like this fantasy realm and am now shopping for a VR headset to live there.

KenWo4LiFe

People loooove Joe Crede. Mike Moustakas is better than Joe Crede.

Patrick Nolan

He might get the edge for being healthier, but per game played, it’s damn close, maybe even edge: Crede.

Lurker Laura

Damn straight. I never missed a .240 hitter like I miss Joe Crede.

Moose is hypothetically fun for the “Royals fans exploding into dust balls of rage” factor. But only for that.

ScootMcnairy

Their numbers seem pretty similar through their first seven years, but I wouldn’t want to give a long term contract to a 29 year old Crede or Moustakas. Not saying that I expect Moose to fall off as quickly as Joe did, but I really expect him to start falling off in the field.

Joliet Orange Sox

It’s not that hard for Moustakas to be better than Crede since Crede is almost 40 years old with back problems.

zerobs

Moose’s top 2 comps on bbref are Plouffe and Crede.

I wonder if Boras gave Moustakas the same contract advice that he gave Crede.

mqr

So sign Todd Frazier again? This feels like going around in circles.

Anohito

Dear god no. hard pass on the moose. Learn from the mistakes of the past and what not. just keep letting the young talent develop.

MrTopaz

More like Mike Mistakeas, amirite?

katiesphil

No, thank you very much.

jorgefabregas

Old friend alert:
https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/indians-to-sign-carlos-torres.html

He’s 35!

So am I, I guess.

katiesphil

Do you have someone you trust who can confirm it bot you?

Josh Nelson

Tyler Danish is NOT starting on Friday. Instead, it’s…Dylan Covey?

PopeDonnPall

Didn’t we just cut Covey? Doesn’t he have to clear waivers or whatever before returning? Can he please not clear waivers and not return?

zerobs

Only DFA’d, not released. If nobody claims him, he just gets removed from 40-man and gets assigned to the minors. He might have the option to be a free agent, but I doubt anyone would sign him and give him a 40-man roster spot, otherwise they’d just claim him.

Red_Hair_White_Sox

Wow, the Sox don’t even know Covey’s twitter handle.

Sophist

he has to prove he’s not a bot

steely3000

Is he even on Twitter? Not everyone is.

karkovice squad

Yes. And an airline recently lost his luggage like the Sox lost his Twitter handle.

Anohito

How many innings do you think they’ll get? Usually the established starters get like 2 but this list is well all young guys and hector. Will they get more?

zerobs

Tampa seems like a more sensible landing spot for Moose, unless Baltimore wants to put Machado at short immediately.

Josh Nelson

If Tampa signed Moustakas my head would explode trying to figure out what the reasoning would be after what has transpired this past week.

Patrick Nolan

I’m beginning to wonder whether there’s something wrong with Corey Dickerson, similar to what happened with Brett Lawrie.

Josh Nelson

If you’re right, then the White Sox should avoid Dickerson.

Patrick Nolan

They should anyway.

Greg Nix

Or they decided CJ Cron + Carlos Gomez was a better way to spend their $6 million than Dickerson by himself. I don’t necessarily disagree.

The Souza trade makes less sense to me, but at least they got some decent prospects back in that one.

winningugly

Child molester? Wife beater? Heroin addict? TRump supporter? Did we ever hear about Lawrie’s deal? Medical?

Patrick Nolan

Broken body

zerobs

On a one-year deal similar to Gomez it might be worth it for them. Only real drawback is losing a pick.

Trooper Galactus

No thank you. MOAR YOLMER!

L2R

I dislike the concept of “we don’t want to win this year, we are in development” what is wrong with getting a 3rd baseman, a center fielder and at least another pitcher? I understand they gave away a lot of talent to reload the farm teams but they have the money to spend and if it allows others time to develop then that is how it should be. I would not deplete the farm system but they have money. A few vets on the club that have reasonable contracts could be moved over the Summer (and they might have more value if teams are on the bubble) and if the youth movement is ready to take over.

Trooper Galactus

Because they’re trying to evaluate some of their players at the major league level, don’t want to block players on the rise, and don’t want to keep making the same mistakes that got them in this situation in the first place. Yeah, they can load up on some more middling free agents, but it won’t drastically alter their fortunes and could hamper them when it really counts.

L2R

I well understand why we are in a rebuild year. But are we that far from the playoffs? Is it so bad to expect players to feel some pressure to go out and win?

If so, then maybe they should just hand out participation trophies at the end of the season and call it good enough.

I can’t help but wonder if we are not teaching the young players to rationalize losing as well!

Patrick Nolan

Even disregarding the fact that each young player’s future career and livelihood is always on the line —
if you don’t think the players care about winning, you weren’t watching last season.

L2R

I did not disregard their efforts. If you look, I am concerned that their current attitudes continue on in their careers. Teaching them that winning isn’t important is what bothers me.

I see young people doing everything they can to make it in all levels of sports and you are correct in thinking our young talent is working hard. I have also seen pro’s that look they are are just clocking in and out of their jobs with seemingly no desire to aspire. Saying we are not trying to win this year isn’t a good start in my opinion. Maybe that is what you know to be true but why instill that in anyone at any time. If you think I am wrong just google Mark Cuban and see how that is working for him.

No need to attack me personally. I was watching and .500 for September was great which was kind of my point . Why not fill a couple of holes and get a little better: we might surprise everyone being so many other teams are actively tanking this year. Two or three more veterans doesn’t blockade the entire youth movement. In fact, that is how it is supposed to work. And if a young guy proves he is ready, then Moose might be worth more in July than in February and you move him on with a better draft pick. If so, fantastic.

Not trying to change your mind. Yours is set just like mine. Hope you are right and it all works out. I am here just voicing my opinion and last I checked, that was ok.

Patrick Nolan

It’s very much OK to voice your opinion and I meant no disrespect (FWIW, I was not among those that down-voted the comment).

I apologize for the snark — it just seems like from watching this group that they’re too hungry for success for me to worry about them accepting losses. We might be able to accept it as fans, Rick Hahn might be able to accept it in a year like this, but I don’t think many, if any guys in that locker room are content with losing. All of the “important” guys still have something to prove individually before they even have the ability to be settled enough to function like Eddie Punchclock. That might be less true a year from now, but I fully expect that the pressure to win that you speak of will be felt going into the 2019 season.

katiesphil

Exactly. Like flags – they’re for inappropriate behavior, not differences of opinion.

Trooper Galactus

Honestly, if I felt strongly enough about a comment to downvote it, it would probably be banhammer worthy to begin with.

Trooper Galactus

And thanks for the downvote, whoever you are. I expect to be smote by the banhammer any moment now.

L2R

I don’t remember knocking any players or coaches. Seems like a great group and hope they go far. If I came across that way, my apologies.

I do have issues with management and voicing low expectations for 2018. I don’t like the “winning isn’t important this year because……” ideology. I can see that being used for any number of reasons in the future.

I can’t imagine a publicly traded company making such an announcement and the shareholders rejoicing about the future.

I am hoping for the best and maybe I can survive another losing year. Sorry if I offended anyone- I just hate losing, OK?

Patrick Nolan

I hate losing too, and am generally sick of tank talk. So I’m with you there.

Reindeer Games

Y’all gave me participation trophies and check me out. I kick ass!

lastof12

Where the “benched” feature, Jim?

Reindeer Games

Not an “Orange County” fan?

lastof12

I believe Jack Black refers to getting into college with the kick ass remark. And yes, I’m a fan.

karkovice squad

Rick, your North Shore is showing.

comment image

Otter

Yuck. Though, I guess it’s better than an Academy hat. (yes I know he went to New Trier)

Reindeer Games

The true assholes definitely went to Loyola (shout out to my college roommate, best friend, and total non asshole that I love to troll!)

winningugly

Prick.

karkovice squad

And was a CUBFAN. Which 100% explains the Quintana trade.

Reindeer Games

#notallcubfans something something Ron Swanson

Marty34

The Sox were a .500 team the last six weeks of last season and with the Tigers and Royals serious in the race for the bottom I don’t think that tanking will work. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t on the fringes of the wildcard race at the all-star break.

Anyway, Moustakis at something like 4/$60M would be fine. He’d give them left-handed power something they are lacking throughout the organization

mikeyb

The White Sox were a .500 team for the first month of 2017 too! Clearly should have gone all in then, a playoff appearance was a just a Moustakas away.

Marty34

I wouldn’t consider acquiring Moustakas going all in.

Foulkelore

The nice thing about the cold market this offseason is that a bunch of these guys left are probably going to end up signing one year deals. There’s no guarantee, but it’s quite possible Moustakas is out there again next year. If the Sox strike out on Machado and the other elite free agents, they’ll have another year of knowledge about their own system and these free agents to help inform their decision about what long term moves make sense.

Patrick Nolan

Big fan of your username.

Lurker Laura

Agreed. Outstanding.

Foulkelore

Gracias – Foulke was a pet favorite of mine in the days when I thought WHIP was an advanced stat, Howry was closing, and I felt very strongly that Foulke should be instead.

Foulkelore

Thanks, I’m a big fan of your math skills.

dsbatt

If the Sox sign Moustakas after March 29, do they still lose draft pick and international bonus money?