Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Padres Should Trade for Mike Moustakas

Chase Headley has been a Padre since 2007, and the Padres starting third baseman since 2010. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but has not been the superstar he appeared to be in 2012, when he lead the National League with 115 RBI's. While Headley is an above-average third baseman, he is a free agent after this season. The Padres appear to need a replacement, as Headley seems very unlikely to resign with the club. San Diego also does not have an obvious replacement within the organization, so it seems like the Padres will need to search outside of the organization for a third baseman for 2015. Mike Moustakas might be a solution.

Once upon a time, Moustakas seemed destined for greatness. He was the #2 overall pick in 2007 by Kansas City. Many scouts compared him to Alex Rodriguez and predicted he would be a future All-Star. Moustakas has not evolved into the superstar many assumed he would be, but he has shown flashes of realizing his enormous potential. In 2012, as the Royals everyday third baseman, he clubbed 20 homers. The last few years have been a struggle, however.

Last season, Moustakas hit just .233 with 12 homers. In 2014, he has produced an anemic triple-slash line of .148/.218/.313, with 4 homers. Moustakas also spent 10 days in AAA, attempting to regain the promise he once displayed. The Royals had Danny Valencia takeover for Moustakas, but he landed on the disabled list, necessitating a Moustakas reunion with the parent club. At some point, the Royals brass may need to make a decision on whether he fits into the club's long-term plans. If he doesn't, the Padres should make a phone call.

Moustakas intrigues me for a number of reasons. First, I love the Southern California connection. Moustakas played his high school ball in Chatsworth, up around Los Angeles. Perhaps a return to California would rejuvenate the beleaguered Royal. Moustakas is also young and affordable -- he turns 26 in September and will not be eligible for free agency until 2018. Despite all of the offensive flaws, Moustakas is an above-average defensive third baseman.

There are obviously many reasons why Moustakas has underachieved. He strikes out a lot and does not draw many walks. He has a putrid career OBP of .289 and has not shown the power he was projected to have. A move to Petco Park does not seem like the best cure for what is plaguing Moustakas.
The free agent market does not offer a lot of solutions for a third baseman. The other marquee third baseman is Pablo Sandoval, who will likely be out of the Padres' price range. Hanley Ramirez is a pipe dream. Alberto Callaspo? No thanks.

The Padres could feasibly move Jedd Gyorko to third or play top prospect Jace Peterson at third next season. While both solutions make some sense, Peterson's bat projects as a middle infielder and Gyorko is better suited to play second.

The Padres could offer up a young pitcher and perhaps an outfielder like Will Venable. It is hard to gage what the Royals would ask for in return. I do think Moustakas makes a ton of sense for the Padres.