In a slow offseason that has seen very few little traction on the free agent market, any little scrap of news is big news. While the Yankees try to balance their payroll, they continue to discuss which players could potentially improve the team for the 2018 season, and possibly beyond. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag, the Yankees recently discussed adding Mike Moustakas.
In a normal baseball offseason, someone like Moustakas would not still be available in February. In a normal baseball offseason, Moustakas would likely command a deal far outside of the Yankees’ price range at this point. This is not a normal offseason, so here we are, on Groundhog Day, talking about him as a semi-realistic possibility.
Moustakas is coming off a 2017 where he hit an impressive .272/.314/.521 and knocked a career-high 38 home runs on the season. More importantly, he has been a .275/.329/.496 hitter over the last three years, making two All-Star appearances, even with an injury-shortened 2016. He’ll be 29 in 2018, so he has age on his side, which is something the Yankees are likely attracted to.
Unfortunately, Moustakas will command a contract beyond what the Yankees have to spend. They already sent Chase Headley and his $13 million contract out the door, and there’s no way Moustakas gets less than that. The thing about Mike Moustakas, though, is that he’s incredibly overrated. He’s a good baseball player for sure, but not someone the Yankees truly need on a long-term contract.
The Yankees may be better served rolling with Miguel Andujar to start the year, and if he proves he can’t hack it by July, they can make a trade. Moustakas would fit much better on a team like the Mets, where he would instantly become their best player, and likely remain that way through the entirety of the contract. It’s too bad the Mets are the Mets, though, because they already said no to him.
The Yankees are in a tough situation this offseason when it comes to free agents. They want to get under the luxury tax threshold, so to add anyone of significance, they would have to cut even more from the payroll. If that ends up being anyone but Jacoby Ellsbury, though, it’s not really worth the hassle.
Furthermore, it would be silly to lock Moustakas up to a multi-year deal with someone like Manny Machado due to be a free agent next offseason. You don’t necessarily want to put all your hopes in a situation that might not pan out, but Moustakas isn’t worth missing out on Machado. The Yankees are already pushing things with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on the same team, so they wouldn’t be able to pull that move again.
What the Yankees might try to do is wait Moustakas out and hope his market falls to the point that he will take either a one-year deal or a team friendly contract without no-trade provisions. That way, Moustakas has a home, he gets paid, but the Yankees don’t have to keep him around for years to come. It’s super unlikely to happen, but we can all dream, right?