Moustakas never really got going this season, contributing -1.0 bWAR and a .214/.295/.345 triple-slash across 285 plate appearances. The soon-to-be 34-year-old, in his third season with the Reds, has one year (at $18MM) remaining on the four-year, $64MM deal he signed in December 2019 as the Reds geared up to compete in the (ultimately pandemic-shortened) 2020 season.
The Reds have since traded away several of their most valuable assets, of course (including Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Brandon Drury at the deadline and Sonny Gray, Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, and Tucker Barnhart in the offseason), with Moustakas one of only a few veterans remaining from the 2020 club that secured a wild-card berth in the shortened season. Beyond the financial commitment, Moustakas’ declining production and struggles with injury have made moving him difficult. Since arriving in Cincinnati, he’s compiled a .216/.300/.383 batting line — a substantial drop from his career .247/.308/.434 line — and he’s missed more than a third of 2022 already after appearing in only 62 games in 2021.
Moran, taken by the Marlins as the sixth overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft, will get his third taste of the bigs this season as Moustakas’ replacement. The corner infielder broke in with the Astros for short stints in both 2016 and 2017 before heading to Pittsburgh in 2018 as part of the package that netted Gerrit Cole. Moran had some success with the Pirates, compiling a .269/.333/.419 line across four seasons, but he was ultimately designated for assignment shortly before the lockout to clear a 40-man spot for Yoshi Tsutsugo.
In his prior two stints with the Reds this year, Moran has logged a comparatively meager .210/.299/.360 triple-slash in 117 plate appearances, well below his career .263/.327/.414 mark in a relatively small sample. He may well get a chance to build on those numbers for a rebuilding Reds squad, though. Moustakas and Donovan Solano had been sharing time at first since Joey Votto’s season ended in rotator cuff surgery, and Moran may well simply take over Moustakas’ share of the playing time there. The club may also opt to take a more extended look at him, as he’ll remain eligible for arbitration in 2023.