The Phillies and Royals have held at least preliminary trade talks involving Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The level of interest is not entirely apparent and there’s no indication at this point that the sides are nearing an agreement. But the K.C. scouting department is said to be taking a look at the Phillies system to identify targets.
With a $5.5MM salary this year and $1MM buyout on a 2019 mutual option, Moustakas is an affordable target. Of course, that’s probably not the chief concern for the Phils, who have been much more willing to burn money than prospect capital of late. In recent years, the club has placed numerous hefty salaries onto its payroll, but in most cases hasn’t packaged significant young talent or taken on long-term financial commitments.
The Philadelphia organization unquestionably has the assets to get Moustakas; what’s not yet clear is whether he’s really the player they want. Firmly in the picture in the National League East, the Phillies are said to be a possible pursuer of top summer trade candidate Manny Machado — a player they may also covet in free agency at season’s end. The club has also been connected to Rangers third bagger Adrian Beltre.
Moustakas, 29, has trailed off at the plate of late after surging to open the year. Still, his .255/.310/.467 slash and 15 home runs through 332 plate appearances fall right in line with his composite work from the prior three campaigns. He has perhaps even been a bit unfortunate; while his .255 BABIP is in line with his unusually low career rate, Moustakas is credited by Statcast with a .383 xwOBA that greatly exceeds his .325 wOBA.
There’s not much mystery at this point as to Moustakas’s profile. He’s got excellent power, middling on-base ability, and not-insignificant platoon splits (which have widened this year). Defensively, he has graded out as a positive this year, but he has mostly played within range of average over his career.
It’ll be interesting to see how the deadline plays out for the Phillies. There are lots of possibilities, both at the hot corner and elsewhere on the roster. As Salisbury indicates, the team may well not show much interest in parting with top prospects to make deals. But few, if any, clubs in baseball can match the Phillies in near and long-term financial flexibility, opening numerous creative avenues to improve a roster that has already looked solid through the season’s halfway point.