With Mike Moustakas value slipping during the early part of the season, the St. Louis Cardinals should pursue the power hitting third baseman now, not later.
The St. Louis Cardinals are suffering from an anemic offense that can’t seem ignite on all cylinders at one time. Trade rumors have linked the Cardinals to Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, and Mike Moustakas as possible targets by the trade deadline of July 31st.
However, I believe the Royals’ Mike Moustakas is the best option for the Cardinals and now the time is right to pursue the power hitting third baseman for the following reasons.
Moustakas’ value is down.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported this weekend that many teams are showing little interest in Royals third baseman due to his current offensive pace. Rosenthal points out that Moustakas’ output has faded as the season has progressed. In fact, “Mouse” is in a slump that started in May and has carried into June.
In his last 30 games, Moustakas is hitting a slash line of .216/.305/.369 with 3 HRs and 18 RBIs in 111 AB. Also, in the last 15 games, he has a slash line of .212/.288/.327 with 1 HR and 8 RBIs. Rosenthal points out that against left handed pitching, the left handed hitter has struggled all year producing a line of .224/.253/..353.
The 29-year old Moustakas, has a very friendly one year contract for $6.5 million with a mutual option for 2019, that the St. Louis Cardinals could easily absorb. Since the Royals third baseman is currently drawing little interest from other clubs, the Cardinals may not have to dip very deep in their farm system, if they move now.
First Base/Third Base
The Kansas City Royals have showcased Moustakas at first base for the first time in his career, to add to his appeal at the trade deadline. Although only for two games thus far, Moustakas has the skills necessary to play first base. The hands and the footwork are there, he just needs some more starts at first.
This would certainly be attractive to the St. Louis Cardinals, who like to have flexibility with their infielders. Jose Martinez has been painful to watch at first base this year and is often substituted in late game situations in order to beef up the defense.
Moustakas could possibly give the Cardinals an opportunity to beef up the defense at first base and still keep a power threat in the line up for late innings.
The Royals are ready to do business
The Royals have already moved to two key pieces in outfielder Jon Jay and reliever Kelvin Herrera this month. Jay was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Elvis Luciano and Gabe Speier on June 6th. Herrera was traded to the Washington Nationals for three minor leaguers on June 18th.
The trading of Herrera alone, well before the trade deadline, is telling the baseball world the Royals are ready to deal key pieces and start rebuilding for the future. The 28-year old reliever is a two-time AL All-Star who helped the Royals win the 2015 World Series.
The Royals general manager Dayton Moore said, “We’d like to be holding on to our players longer, but where we are in the standings and how we are playing, if we can get the right move, it’s important to move.”
Manny Machado, high reward, high risk
The best offensive help the St. Louis Cardinals could possibly get would be Orioles’ 25 year old third baseman/shortstop Manny Machado. Machado has a seven year career BA of .282, 156 HR, 459 RBI, and only played less than 156 games once since 2013. Thus far in 2018, Machado has a slash line of .310/.377/.567 and has 18 HR, 53 RBIs in 69 games.
However, getting Machado would cost the St. Louis Cardinals much more than either Mike Moustakas or Josh Donaldson. The Cardinals would also have to consider if the cost in prospects would be worth it for just a possible rental of Machado for 2018. Could the Cardinals outbid likely contenders such as the Dodgers, Mets, or even the Red Sox in the offseason?
Certainly Manny Machado would be high reward, but also brings a high risk.
Josh Donaldson, Injury Prone
The 32 year old Toronto Blue Jay third baseman has had a impressive career with three All-Star appearances, an AL MVP, and two Silver Slugger awards. In his eight year career he has averaged 33 HR, 102 RBIs, with a .275 BA and a .873 OPS.
Impressive as that is, Donaldson has started to show ‘wear and tear’ , only playing 113 games in 2017 and 36 games thus far in 2018. To read more about Donaldson’s current injury issues, read my article of last week here: St. Louis Cardinals: Cards should stay away from Josh Donaldson
Donaldson would certainly be affordable move for the Cards, but he currently sits on the Blue Jay 10 day DL and makes one question how much help he would be for rest of 2018.
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Mike Moustakas would be the best move for the St. Louis Cardinals, if they can move right now. Even though Moustakas has been in a slump, he still has a season slash line of .263/.318/.474 with 13 HR and 47 RBI. Also, Moustakas has a eight year career slash line of .252/.306/.474 with a OPS of .736.
Moustakas’ 13 HR and 47 RBIs would make him the Cardinals leader in those stats if he came to St. Louis. Placed in the lineup between Jose Martinez and Ozell Ozuna, in my opinion would make the lineup stronger. Moustakas’ addition could be the spark plug to bring the Cardinals offense out of it’s doldrums.
As stated, the cost of bringing Moustakas to St. Louis could possibly be small in terms of prospects and certainly in salary. In addition, if the Cardinals wanted to sign Moustakas to an extension, it seems to me to be more likely than trying to sign a Manny Machado.
The St. Louis Cardinals need to move now if they want Mike Moustakas and if they want to immediately ignite the offense. If they wait until the Trade Deadline, if could be too late to help this team.
That’s my opinion. What’s yours? Let us know and thanks for reading.