Heading into the non-waiver trade deadline, it’s abundantly clear that the Yankees want to upgrade their starting rotation. It appears, however, the Bombers are also considering help at first base. According to Jon Morosi, the Yankees have considered swinging a trade for Mike Moustakas, with the intention of sliding the natural third baseman across the infield.
Moustakas, 29, has hit .258/.312/.472 with 16 home runs across 82 games this season. That’s good for a .784 OPS. While those numbers may not jump off the page, they’re fine enough. Consider the fact that the league average first baseman is hitting .249/.333/.438 with a .771 OPS in 2018. The Yankees, on the other hand, have managed a weak .657 OPS at the position to date. Moustakas would represent a significant upgrade.
Pinstripe Alley will have a more detailed analysis of Moustakas as a trade target in the coming days, but I want to make three points about the rumor. First, it seems plausible enough. The Yankees apparently love Moustakas. They circled around him all offseason hoping for his price to drop. While that was to play the hot corner, the fact that they’re expressing interest shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Second, does this signal that the Yankees have given up on Greg Bird? I don’t entirely think so. The organization has expressed near-constant faith in him, one rogue executive notwithstanding. That said, the Bombers find themselves in such a competitive division race that they cannot give at-bats away. Bird hitting .200/.306/.419 with a .725 OPS helps no one. If the Yankees can make the upgrade, they should.
Finally, I can’t help but get the feeling that this rumor was leaked by the Royals. The third base market is over-saturated as it is, complete with Manny Machado and Adrian Beltre on the trading block. Moustakas can get lost in the equation among those stars. Saying the Yankees want him to cover first base creates some competition and drives his price up. I’m sure that Brian Cashman made the phone call, but something tells me there’s more to this story.