Mariners Could Raise the Floor with Moustakas

Cincinnati Reds v Philadelphia Phillies
Cincinnati Reds v Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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There's no doubt the Cincinnati Reds have made some interesting moves over the past few years, with the most surprising being a four-year, $64M deal with utility man Mike Moustakas. He was slightly better than a league-average bat in 2020 (105 wRC+), but injuries would derail the next two seasons. Well, the signing of Wil Myers made Moustakas expendable, and now he is about to hit waivers. Nevertheless, there are a few reasons to think the President of Baseball Operations might come calling for the ten-year veteran.

Moustakas Offers Positional Flexibility

Moustakas came up as a third baseman, but most recently, he's handled the right side of the infield (1B, 2B). Earlier this month, Dipoto went on record with Seattle Times reporter Ryan Divish about wanting a corner infielder who could spell Ty France and possibly Eugenio Suarez. His days of stellar defensive work circa 2012 (14 DRS) are long gone, but he is passable at every infield position except shortstop.

Defensive metrics like ultimate zone rating or UZR (1.5 for career) aren't kind to Moustakas, but fielding guru Perry Hill could work his magic with the 34-year-old veteran as he did with Suarez last year.

Moustakas Adds Key Depth to Lineup

They call it the bloop and a blast theory. It's getting runners on with base hits and then driving them in with home runs. Yes, it sounds great in theory, but if that is the only way you score runs, there is a problem. From August 1st through the end of the season, the Mariners scored 56% of their runs by the round-tripper. This was the case because the bottom of the lineup was a black hole for most of the year.

As evidenced in the playoff series loss to the Astros, lineup depth and post-season experience are imperative if this team is going to take another step forward. Replacing the recently traded Abraham Toro with Mike Moustakas might be the first step. They both play the same positions, and there are parallels between them, but Moustakas stands out with a proven track record of above-average performance (101 wRC+) with a career slash line of .247/.308/.434.

Digging deeper into his metrics, we see career walk (7.2%) and strikeout (16.8%) percentages in line with the Mariner's 'control the zone' mantra. Moustakas struggled to maintain those rates over the past few years due to injury, but if he is healthy, there's no reason to think he can't return to the career norms in Seattle.

Moustakas Can Raise the Floor for 2023

At this point in the offseason, significant upgrades are gone unless Dipoto and General Manager are willing to unload the farm for Bryan Reynolds, Tyler O'Neill, or Liam Hendrik. Something tells me they aren't there yet. Why not raise the floor and solidify the bench with a playoff-tested lefty bat? One who could bounce around the infield and the designated hitter spot. I'd be the first to call Mike Moustakas and ask him one question, "Did you see how much fun this team is? Just ask Carlos Santana." That should get him in the door.

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