Free Agent Matrix: Where will the Moose roam come 2018?
While the Hot Stove is a beautiful respite from the dreary world, it can be complicated sometimes. To help, we've created the Cespedes Family BBQ Free Agent Matrix to determine where this offseason's top free agents could end up.
On June 7, 2007, the Kansas City Royals selected Mike Moustakas second overall in the MLB Draft with the hopes that the high school infielder would develop into a star. A decade later, Moustakas etched his name in the Kansas City record books with an outstanding 2017 season, setting a new Royals single-season home run record with 38, besting Steve Balboni's 1985 mark of 36.
Moustakas' 38 long balls were second-most among all third basemen, behind only Joey Gallo's 41. Moose enters free agency as the clear-cut best third baseman available on the market, and will be only 29 on Opening Day 2018. Who has the best chance to land Moustakas this winter?
The Dark Horses
Royals: As we wrote in regards to Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer's respective free agencies, it's safe to say the Royals would love to bring Moustakas back to Kansas City. Watching Moose launch dingers toward the fountains in Kauffman Stadium felt like a bi-weekly tradition this past season, one that we'd love to grow accustomed to for years to come.
Braves: The Braves have built one of the elite farm systems in baseball, one which includes a promising third baseman in Austin Riley who had a strong 2017 at Double-A. It remains to be seen whether new GM Alex Anthopoulos is ready to push for an NL East crown sooner rather than later, but bringing in Moose would be an exciting way to signify that he sees the Braves competing in the near future.
Mets: While the perpetually uncertain return of David Wright still looms, the Mets are currently projected to head into 2018 with either Asdrubal Cabrera or Wilmer Flores at the hot corner. Injuries derailed any postseason hopes for the Mets in 2017, but a lineup featuring Moustakas, Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes isn't hard to visualize in October.
Cardinals: St. Louis has been rumored to want to beef up its offense this off-season. Jedd Gyorko had a sneaky good year at third, but Moustakas would still represent a significant upgrade for a team in need of more dingers. I think we've made it fairly clear that Moustakas can provide more dingers. Don't rule out a return to Missouri for Moose.
Angels: Extending Justin Upton earlier this month ensured a well above-average Angels outfield for the foreseeable future -- that Trout fellow is OK -- but the infield still has some question marks. If GM Billy Eppler prefers to continue to boost his offense even further rather than add to his pitching staff, Moose would be a perfect fit at third for Anaheim, and would provide some much needed left-handed pop for a right-handed-heavy lineup.
Giants: As much as we'd love to buy into the Pablo Sandoval resurgence story, his .225/.263/.375 line after returning to San Francisco in late July was not exactly promising. The Giants have enough talent to get back into contention for a postseason spot in the near future, but they will have to address their needs with impact players like Moustakas (and probably a few other names) if they want to start another Even Year Magic trend in 2018.