Well, here is something to chew on that might burn your mouth. Former Major League Baseball executive Dan O’Dowd set the hot stove ablaze this morning by claiming Mike Moustakas is a great fit for the White Sox.
Dan O'Dowd says #whitesox are best fit for Moustakas on MLB Network. Intriguing.
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) January 4, 2018
Well isn’t that something. MLB Traderumors anticipates Moustakas to earn $85 million on a five-year deal in his first swim in free agency. Scott Boras is his agent and needs no introduction. Boras has been the villain of many free-agency nightmares for major-league clubs and he is in a current stare down over Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta and J.D. Martinez.
But here is the story: The White Sox would love to have Moustakas but not for five years and $85 million. He hasn’t been worth the average $17 million annual salary for many clubs to bite on, and with Manny Machado hitting the market next offseason White Sox brass would rather have Machado over Moustakas even at the enormous price tag he is likely to have.
But what if… What if the White Sox could snare Moustakas on a five-year deal with a club option at year four? Boras would likely demand a front-loaded deal with at least $48 million guaranteed and a hefty buyout.
Before we consider whether Moustakas is worth $16 million a year we have to unpack whether the White Sox believe Jake Burger is the future hot-corner solution. Burger was the first-round pick in 2017 and earns praise for a strong bat and gobs of intangible value. But he also carries concerns about his ability to handle third base.
Burger didn’t light the world on fire in his professional debut but with steady improvement, he could reach the big leagues by 2021. And if third base isn’t in his future he profiles as an uber-athletic first baseman.
At a minimum, signing Moustakas to a deal like this offers the White Sox flexibility to experiment with secondary positions for Burger if his glove never catches up to his bat, and allows Moustakas to prove his mettle while Burger’s development plays out. Promising $48 million to a player with a career .251 batting average is not appealing to many, but Moustakas is coming off an all-star season belting 38 home runs and hitting his prime years.
Something else Moustakas adds to the equation is low strikeout totals, yet the South Siders will need to teach the slugger patience if he wants to fit the analytic model of high walks to low strikeouts. A dearth of walks has haunted Moustakas’ on-base percentage for years but it is not beyond his capabilities to be more selective at the plate.
But…given the choice of Machado at nearly $1 BILLION and Moustakas at $48 million with a club option in the middle one has to seriously consider the cheaper option.
…and yes, I’d rather have Machado at any price.