After days of speculation at this week’s All-Star Game, it is finally official: Orioles shortstop Manny Machado is leaving Baltimore. The Dodgers packaged five prospects in a trade for the pending free agent on Wednesday evening.
There are two weeks remaining until the nonwaiver trade deadline on July 31. It’s now time for the remaining dominoes in MLB’s trade market, which includes the Royals’ Mike Moustakas, to fall.
Moustakas’ suitors are few. The Dodgers sold the farm for Machado and are off the table. The Yankees no longer appear interested in adding Moustakas as a first baseman, as they were a week before the All-Star break.
Here is look at a some teams in need of a third baseman.
The Phillies are trying to take a firm lead in the National League East. They have the ability to commit to that endeavor without giving up much, in terms of payroll or prospects, in return.
They lost out on Machado because they weren’t willing to part with top prospects for a rental they will try to acquire in the offseason. But Moustakas, batting .249 with 19 homers and 58 RBIs and still just a few months removed from failing to land a lucrative free-agent deal, won’t command nearly as much as Machado.
Moustakas, 29, is owed the rest of the $5.5 million salary he agreed on for this season, plus the $1 million buyout of the $15 million mutual option on his contract. He’s also due up to $2.2 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances.
He would be a cheap replacement for the Phillies’ Maikel Franco, who is batting .269 but doesn’t hit for as much power and has not been as productive (Moustakas has a Baseball Reference WAR of 1.9 and Franco one of 0.3) this season.
For this transaction to happen, the Red Sox would have to decide Rafael Devers, 21, needs more seasoning. The argument can be made that he does — his .292 on-base percentage is the second-lowest among third basemen with at least 300 plate appearances and his weighted runs created plus score of 87 is the lowest in the same group. He’s also struck out 92 times, more than any other third baseman in baseball and more than all but one of his teammates (J.D. Martinez has struck out 95 times).
But with a priority to fill in the Dustin Pedroia-sized hole at second base and to supplement a rotation that has seen two of its pitchers injured, the Red Sox may be willing to hold back on a Devers detour.
The good news is the Red Sox are not deterred from crossing MLB’s luxury tax threshold and taking on a payroll above $237 million, according to NBC Sports Boston. Moustakas would be a cheap addition to a team trying to stave off the Yankees in the American League East race.
The Angels could have landed Moustakas, a Southern California native, last winter. Instead, they chose to sign former Reds shortstop Zack Cozart and move him to third base. The plan backfired last month, when Cozart was diagnosed with left shoulder subluxation. He underwent shoulder surgery on July 8, ending a season in which he was batting a paltry .219 with a .658 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
The Angels could use an impact bat in front of Mike Trout, but their road to the postseason is long. They’re 14 games behind the Astros in the American League West. The path to a wild-card spot is just as rocky, as they are nine games behind the second-place Mariners in that race.
Still, Moustakas would be an upgrade over David Fletcher, Cozart’s rookie replacement who is batting .250 with eight RBIs and five runs scored in 27 games.