Texas Rangers Rumors: Mike Moustakas an Offseason Possibility?
By Kenneth Nash
Pitching help may dominate the Texas Rangers headlines, is there a possibility that they could make a run at power hitter, Mike Moustakas?
The majority of this offseason will revolve around the Texas Rangers and their pursuit of legitimate starting pitching to rebuild a rotation that severely is lacking in depth. While starting pitching and pitching as a whole will take the front seat this winter, could Texas look to add a top level third baseman along the way?
The Texas Rangers have numerous positions up in the air this offseason including the” hot corner”, third base. With Adrian Beltre yet to make a decision on retirement or whether he’ll return to the Rangers if he does come back for one more season, attention at the position now shifts to Jurickson Profar and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, both who are the logical next steps to replacing the future Hall of Famer.
While both Profar and IKF have experience at third from last season, neither is considered a top caliber player with Profar struggling a bit defensively at the position and IKF not possessing the power at the plate that usually is desired of Major League third basemen. Enter former Royals’ slugger and briefly, Brewers’ slugger, Mike Moustakas.
This particular rumor is brought to you by Jim Duquette of MLB.com. In his 2018-2019 free agent rankings at the end of October, Duquette linked the Texas Rangers as a team interested in the former All-Star. Duquette considers Moustakas to be the 15th ranked free agent during this offseason.
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Why It Makes Sense For Texas?
I have to admit, when I saw the Rangers listed as an interested suitor of Mike Moustakas, I did a double-take. But when you dig a little bit deeper, it could be a fantastic addition for Texas. Moustakas is coming off a down year in 2018 at the plate. Posting a .256 average and a .767 OPS, Moustakas’ homers dropped from 38 in 2017 to 28 in 2018. His average dipped 21 points and his OPS fell 61 points. This drop in production is exactly why the Rangers could be in on Moustakas.
With Moustakas coming off a down year, he might be available at a bit of a discount, especially in a free agent market that’s extremely top heavy with Manny Machado and Bryce Harper dominating all the talk. Jim Duquette of MLB.com (referenced above) notes that the third baseman could be in line for a contract similar to that of Jay Bruce last offseason at 3 years, $39 million. At $13 million a year on average, the Rangers should certainly be taking a flyer on Moustakas.
Additionally, at only 30 years old, Moustakas is a player that could genuinely be around for the long-term, which is where the Rangers are focused. With real chances at being competitive in 2 or 3 years, Texas could try and lock Moustakas in for more than 3 years and have another big piece of their rebuild locked down.
As mentioned above, Adrian Beltre has yet to make a decision on whether he’ll return to the Rangers in 2019 or whether he’ll return to baseball at all rather than hang up the cleats. With many thinking Beltre could be out, Texas has to turn it’s attention to a replacement and while Jurickson Profar and Isiah Kiner-Falefa are solid players, they don’t offer the upside that Mike Moustakas does.
Moustakas also could see time at first base, if the Rangers decide Ronald Guzman needs some more developing and could also take over the DH role in a couple of seasons when Shin-Soo Choo’s contract is finally up. Having Moustakas as a DH in what still amounts to his prime would be a big addition for the Texas Rangers.
Why It Doesn’t Make Sense For Texas?
While we may be getting our hopes up like all good sports fans do, adding another left-handed bat to the lineup is pretty illogical. On a team that put out lineups of upwards of 6 left-handed hitters, adding another, even one of Moustakas’ talent level, is not only pointless but could put the club at a disadvantage limiting flexibility. This is the biggest red flag in all likelihood as Texas has almost zero use for yet another left-handed bat.
While third base may be a real need for the Texas Rangers if Beltre doesn’t return, it’s not the top priority for the club by any stretch. Jon Daniels, Chris Woodward and the rest of the Texas Rangers leadership would likely be hesitant to invest much money in offseason targets that aren’t starting pitching with the knowledge that even with a stout lineup, they don’t have the arms to go toe-to-toe with the best teams in baseball.
What Has To Happen To Make This Work?
First and foremost, Adrian Beltre is not coming back to Arlington if this is to even have a shot at happening. If Texas and Beltre decide to reunite for one more year, Texas will delay their third base search a year as Beltre is still more than capable of locking down the position for the majority of the season.
Assuming Beltre decides to leave or retire, the next step is that Texas likely has to trade away at least one left-handed bat. This means Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara or Willie Calhoun are making their way out of Texas. My money would be on Nomar Mazara who right now looks like a bit of a luxury considering he’s an average at best right fielder and really pulls most of his value at the plate. He likely would draw the biggest return too for the Texas Rangers meaning they could flip him for legitimate pitching prospects to help jumpstart this rebuild. I wouldn’t be surprised if Willie Calhoun was moved this offseason too with his only real fit in the lineup is DH, a spot which Texas won’t see open up for a couple of seasons.
If the Rangers moved one or two of those players, now they boast a lineup with plenty of power, but not an overload of left-handed hitters meaning adding Mike Moustakas becomes a real option.
Likelihood A Deal Works Out?
While the Texas Rangers, Mike Moustakas and fans all will have interest in this possibility, the logistics are pretty tough to work out. Texas would have the financial means to make this deal work, but I’m not sure that they can or will be willing to part with Mazara or Gallo this offseason meaning they won’t have interest in another left-handed bat.