As we near the trade deadline it seems likely the Braves will look at all options to improve third base. In his weekly column, Nick Cafardo wrote that rival evaluators believe the Braves will pursue Mike Moustakas of the Royals.
“3. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals — There’s a growing feeling among talent evaluators that Moustakas could become a Braves target. The Braves are currently using Jose Bautista at third. His defense has been fine, but he’s still not hitting like the Bautista of old. GM Alex Anthopoulos isn’t known to sit still.”
It’s important to note that these are simply the musings of other evaluators and not directly the Braves, but it doesn’t take much to link the two sides.
Moustakas, 29, was a victim of the slower-than-expected free agent market and waited all winter before signing with the Royals. He’s owed just $5.5 million in 2018 with a mutual option of $15 million for 2019 and a $1 million buyout. He’s off to a strong start with a .294/.333/.528 line (126 wRC+) and steady defense.
The Royals, however, are an unfathomable 14-32 this season. It’s only a matter of time until they sell and begin to rebuild.
As we know, the Braves have looked far and wide for third base help. The Jose Bautista experiment ended quickly, Ryan Flaherty has cooled off, and for the time being the club is going to roll with Johan Camargo. It’s safe to say the club would prefer Camargo in a super utility role rather than an every-day starter.
Given the low salary, Kansas City’s likeliness to sell and the Braves’ desire to upgrade third, the two seem like a natural trade partners. The Braves would surely have a prospect or two that would intrigue the Royals, although I can’t imagine the prospect return being too high. Add in Anthopoulos’s history of never being shy on the trade market, and we have our first rumor of the summer.