Jun 8, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) has a two run home run during the eighth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Moose’s Potential Suitors

The rumors are heating up, so I think we should take a look at the trade market for Mike Moustakas. The Royals robbed us of this opportunity with Kelvin Herrera by trading him way before anyone thought they would, so let’s get to this now. Unfortunately, the market for Moose isn’t what a lot of people thought it might be after his fantastic April. Instead, it’s settled back into the market that caused him issues on the free agent market. He still has the bad OBP and the bad body and now is even older than he was when he couldn’t find a job in the offseason. So let’s look at the contenders for his services.

Just a quick note here. I’m listing some prospects who could be intriguing to the Royals. This isn’t that I think they’re going to be the return or that I’m hearing anything on them. These are just the types of guys in the range of the system that they could and seem likely to target in a Moustakas trade.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves probably aren’t really in any rush to make a deal for a third baseman because Johan Camargo has played really well for them, especially lately. They’re on here simply because they’ve been mentioned as a Moustakas suitor in the past. If they don’t believe Camargo is part of the future, I suppose they could flip him for Moose, which is something I wasn’t too wild about a couple weeks ago, but as the deadline gets closer, if that’s the best return, that’s the best return. The Braves have such a deep stable of young arms that they’re an attractive partner for the Royals with really any of their middle tier pitchers a good target here. I wonder if they’d take a look at Patrick Weigel who had Tommy John in the middle of last year and should be back at some point this season. That might be a steal for Moose, but one that isn’t without its risks.

Boston Red Sox

Yes they have Rafael Devers who just had a phenomenal game against the Yankees, but he hasn’t exactly been lighting it up this year. He does seem to have a bright future, but Moustakas is kind of the better version of him already. He strikes out less, walks a touch more and plays better defense with similar power. I don’t think this is a great fit, but Dave Dombrowski does some odd things sometimes. The Red Sox system isn’t great. A lot of the pieces they had were dealt for other pieces on the big league roster. Guys like Michael Chavis and Jay Groome are probably off limits in a Moose deal, but someone like Mike Shawaryn would be a nice return for him. It’s probably more likely to be a lower level guy, but hey, it’s worth asking. Darwinzon Hernandez would be an interesting target as well

Cleveland Indians

It’d be tough to make this deal work since it’s in the division, but a little easier knowing Moose isn’t a long-term guy in Cleveland. Although that might make it harder on the Indians side given that they wouldn’t want to give up a piece that could haunt them for years in exchange for two plus months of a guy. Jason Kipnis is a disaster at the plate and they could slide Jose Ramirez to second to accommodate Moustakas. It’d give them another lefty thumper to go along with Yonder Alonso and Michael Brantley (and the two switch hitting beasts they have), so it makes a lot of sense and the acquisition cost would be much lower than some of the other options. I could see the Royals targeting Aaron Civale, a righty who should be big league ready next season or maybe into 2020. Quentin Holmes is a 2016 draft pick who can fly, so that alone makes him a Royals-esque target. He’d probably be difficult to pry, but they’d definitely try. And if they’re looking for a relief prospect, James Karinchak has been dominant this year and matches up with the 2020 timeline they seem to be focusing on for some reason.

Los Angeles Angels

I’m not even sure they’re going to be buyers, but with Cozart out for the year now (and struggling anyway), the Angels could use a third baseman. And hey, there’s the southern California roots too, so that’s great. Moose might actually be a perfect target for the Angels since they’re barely on the fringe of contention, meaning they won’t want to pay the price for Manny Machado or even Eduardo Escobar. The Angels system is much improved, so there’s a little to choose from here. I’m sure the Royals would love Michael Hermosillo, who has been quite good in AAA but quite bad in the big leagues. If they’re making this deal, though, it’s likely because the Royals only asked for someone like Brennon Lund or Luis Pena.

Philadelphia Phillies

This is where the rumors are, but I think the Phillies are more interested in Machado than Moose. I’ve heard from multiple people that if a deal gets done, it would likely include Maikel Franco, which is the opposite of exciting but makes sense from the Phillies side. He’s a disappointing player, but he does have power, I guess. And he’s under team control through 2021. On one hand, acquiring a guy who hit .280/.343/.497 as a 22-year old is exciting. On the other hand, he hasn’t been nearly that good since 2015 and what’s really the point here other than to hope he rebounds after three straight mediocre or worse years and has trade value? Best case on a prospect front here might be Enyel De Los Santos, who has been fantastic this year in AAA, though I’m not confident the Phillies would give him up. The Royals might also like Kyle Young with his 6’10” frame or maybe Drew Anderson if they’re looking for a back end guy to be up soon. I’m not sure why that would be important, but you never know.

St. Louis Cardinals

There are rumors of interest, and there were rumors of interest in free agency as well. At the time, I thought Jedd Gyorko was a better option than paying Moose, but he’s struggled this year. They have Matt Carpenter at third, but could slide him to either second to replace a struggling Kolten Wong or first and could trade Jose Martinez, who is a hell of a hitter but pretty much a disaster defensively. I do think it would be hilarious if the Royals trade Moustakas for Martinez, just for the fan uproar. But that doesn’t seem so likely. Connor Jones is a guy who I think the Royals would have some interest in. This is a much tougher fit because I’m not sure there’s a great match in terms of what the Royals would want and what the Cardinals would give up.

Wherever Moose goes, the return is pretty unlikely to alter the franchise as some may have hoped would be the case back in April. But hey, you never know. Sometimes the secondary or tertiary pieces in a deal turn out to be the best. It’ll be a sad day when the Royals say goodbye to Mike Moustakas…again…but it’s a necessary move and it’s coming.

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