The New York Mets pursuit of Mike Moustakas this winter seems plausible, but in reality, it’s more than unlikely.
The New York Mets have more questions this winter than on your average SAT exam. After a disastrous 2017 nears its conclusion, the training staff, starting rotation, bullpen and center field will be some of the most pressing issues facing Sandy Alderson and his staff. One of the quieter but more significant problems will also revolve around third base.
David Wright‘s career is probably over and even if he does make a second improbable return, a switch to first base seems more likely than a return to third. The Mets may or may not exercise Asdrubal Cabrera‘s option. They could retain Jose Reyes for relatively cheap, and they could also employ Wilmer Flores at third base next season. Some sort of platoon between the aforementioned three is also possible.
The elephant in the free agent room is soon to be former Kansas City Royal Mike Moustakas. The 29-year-old is enjoying a career-best offensive season just in time to test the free agent market. He’s setting career-best marks in home runs, RBI, SLG and OPS. A third baseman by trade, his veteran presence, and above average power make him an attractive candidate to play third in Queens next year.
However, he comes with his flaws. While Sandy Alderson has made it known that he values power over defense, which is exactly what Moustakas has displayed in 2017, his career .305 OBP is something Alderson will be deterred by. In fact, he’s posted an OBP higher than .313 just once in seven seasons.
Speaking of defense, he’s showing signs of regression. Coming into the season, Moustakas posted an impressive total of 15 defensive runs saved for his career. However, he’s posted a -6 DRS mark this season and coming off a torn ACL the year prior, it’s a clear cause for concern. While defense isn’t Alderson’s biggest priority, it’s worth noting when the team is built around its starting pitching.
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The power Moustakas has exhibited this year may also be an anomaly. Power is up all across baseball with 2017 seeing more long balls than any other year in history. His 36 bombs (and counting) are 14 more than his previous best which could raise a few red flags in the Mets front office.
Alderson is also known for being an aficionado of advanced metrics. Moose’s value (WAR) has been above replacement level (2.0) just once in his career (4.4 in 2015).
Between his low on-base percentage, player value, declining defense and abnormally increased power, there are enough risks to stay away from the 29-year-old. If he warrants a lucrative multi-year contract, it only furthers the case against him.
Alderson previously noted that the Mets payroll could be below the approximate $155 million mark from 2017. Outside of Yoenis Cespedes, what large, multi-year contracts has he given to free agents during his tenure in New York? Exactly.
The New York Mets are going to have do something about their third base situation. Moustakas, at first glance, is an attractive option but upon further review comes with enough risks that the Mets don’t need to take.