The Reds are just a couple months removed from wrapping up a 75-win campaign, their sixth straight sub-.500 showing and sixth in a row without a playoff berth. President of baseball operations Dick Williams made it clear entering the offseason that he had seen enough. Williams vowed that the Reds would be players on the open market, saying at the beginning of October the club would “be aggressive in trying to get some guys in free agency.” However, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Two months later, it’s clear Williams wasn’t simply telling disgruntled Reds fans what they wanted to hear.
The Williams-led Reds made an enormous and shocking splash in free agency on Monday, adding infielder Mike Moustakas on a four-year, $64MM guarantee. It was a stunning move for multiple reasons, including the price tag and that Moustakas’ primary position – third base – is already spoken for in Cincinnati. He’s not going to steal the job from incumbent Eugenio Suarez, who’s fresh off a 49-home run season, nor is he a threat to swipe first from franchise legend Joey Votto. That presumably leaves second base for Moustakas. The keystone was an area of need for the Reds prior to the Moustakas signing, and the 31-year-old showed last season he was capable of handling himself there as a member of the division-rival Brewers. Now that Moustakas is aboard, it seems likely youngster Nick Senzel will remain their center fielder instead of shifting to the keystone. So, it’s almost like two decisions in one for the Reds.
As for the cost, it’s a whopper of a deal from both sides’ perspective, especially considering MLBTR was among the outlets that projected a payday in the $20MM range for Moustakas at the start of free agency. That said, one could argue it’s a market correction after back-to-back difficult offseasons for Moustakas. “Difficult” is relative in this case, of course, as the Scott Boras client did rack up contracts worth a guaranteed $16.5MM in that time frame. However, despite a lengthy track record of solid production, Moustakas was unable to score a contract of more than one year in either case. Now, for a truckload of cash, the Reds are getting a player with five seasons of at least 2.0 fWAR and another five of 20-plus home runs on his resume. Moustakas smashed 35 HRs during a homer-heavy league year in 2019, when he slashed .254/.329/.516 and put up 2.8 fWAR across 584 plate appearances.
With Moose in the mix, the majority of Cincy’s infield looks settled. However, the team’s position player cast arguably still has needs at shortstop, catcher and in the outfield. Whether they’ll be as aggressive in trying to upgrade those spots remains to be seen in the wake of the pact they doled out for Moustakas. For now, though, what do you think of this big-time Cincy splash?
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