With spring training fully underway and position battles beginning, third base is still a positional question mark for the Chicago White Sox. Last week, Jon Morosi wrote an article naming the White Sox as a potential fit for former Kansas City Royals third-baseman, Mike Moustakas.
On paper, the former Royals star makes sense for the Sox. As a power-hitting left-handed bat, Moustakas fills a need for the Sox, who are also looking to fill a hole at third base. “Moose” is also coming off a career year where he hit the most home runs in a season in Royals history with 38.
That is where the reasons to sign Moustakas all but the end for the Sox.
The first reason Moustakas doesn’t make sense for the Sox is that despite his favorable power numbers, his peripherals are not as pretty. Moustakas was only a 1.8 WAR player last year, compare that to the current favorite at third base for the Sox, Yolmer Sanchez. Sanchez posted a 3.5 WAR last season. So while Moustakas has the better power numbers, Sanchez provides more team value.
Sanchez’s fielding percentage was 15 points higher than Moustakas’ last year, and Sanchez also got on base more, getting on at .319 clip to Moustakas’ .314. Sanchez is also four years younger, at 25-years-old. Sanchez is on a clear upward trajectory, while Moustakas is likely entering his decline phase.
Moustakas’ age is another factor which makes his fit with the White Sox “iffy.”
At 29, and coming off the best year of his career, he is not headed in a positive direction. It’s no secret the free agent market next year features some of the most exciting young talent in baseball, including Baltimore Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado. The Sox interest in Machado is no secret either. They flirted with Baltimore over the offseason, trying to swing a deal to acquire the superstar third baseman. Signing Moustakas would knock the Sox out of contention for the Orioles superstar, which is something the Sox have no interest in doing.
The Sox know the day will come where they will need to hand out a large contract to a star in order to contend for a title. However, Moustakas is not the answer at this point in time.
Moustakas’ age also does not line up with the Sox timeline for their next contender. He is 29 and will be 30 in September. This means he will realistically be 31 by the time the Southsiders are ready to really contend. At that age, his numbers will likely be a long shot from what they were in 2017, and he will be blocking young talent in the minors as well (shout out to Jake Burger).
Finally, if blocking players that provide more for the team, and overpaying for talent entering the decline phase of their career isn’t enough of a deterrent, one must take into the account the true cost of signing Moustakas. Because of the qualifying contract, Kansas City tendered him, signing Moustakas would lead to the forfeiture of the 45th pick in the draft for the White Sox.
This is one of the biggest factors the Sox must consider. Assuming they go under slot value with their first-round pick, the White Sox are in a position to procure a very good talent in the second round for over slot value, possibly a high school prospect who teams are scared to draft because of money issues.
Going undervalue at their slot could potentially free up as much as $1.5 million dollars the White Sox could put towards that 45th overall pick, which in the MLB draft could potentially result in getting a huge value in the second round.
While Moustakas appears to be the kind of player the Sox could use in their lineup, the reality is there are more reasons not to sign him than there are to sign him. He takes away valuable playing time from younger players that could potentially provide more to the team than Moose.
The reduction in future flexibility is another major concern, as the Sox are likely not willing to commit to Moustakas as the third baseman of the future. Finally, the true cost of signing Moustakas and loss of draft capital should be the biggest deterrent for the Sox.
So if anyone out there was dreaming of watching Mike Moustakas on the Southside, it’s time to put those dreams to bed.