Worst kept secret in baseball…. but the Cincinnati Reds officially announced the signing of Mike Moustakas today. They will hold a press conference tonight introducing him. The team also announced that he will be at Redsfest this weekend – so you will get your chance to see him up close and personal if you’re going to be in town for the event.

As was noted yesterday, and first reported by Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the contract for Mike Moustakas is for 4-years and $64M. But it also includes a 5th option year. And the contract is not for an even $16M per season. In 2020 it is for $12M, and it gets more expensive each season. This morning we took a look at how that alters the payroll for the Reds and what it can do to help them spend to try and win this next season.

Back to Mike Moustakas – the three time all-star (2015, 2017, and 2019) has averaged 29 doubles, a triple, and 34 home runs over the last three seasons while playing for the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers. He’s certainly going to bring some extra power to the Cincinnati Reds lineup.

The questions are going to be about his defense and his ability to get on base. His on-base percentage is just at .319 over the last three seasons. He doesn’t walk much – though he doesn’t strikeout much, either (at least by today’s standards). His ability to get on-base is tied to his ability to hit for average, and he’s just a .259 hitter the last three seasons. And that’s about what he projects to be in 2020, too. Marcels projects him for a .255/.318/.492 line with 30 home runs for 2020. Steamer is a tiny bit higher with their projection, having the infielder hit .256/.323/.502 with 36 home runs in 2020.

Defensively the question is two fold. The first is that he’s going to be playing second base – a position where he has less than 50 total games of experience at in his professional career. Just how well with that work out? Shifts and defensive positioning go a long way in today’s game, and that certainly can help. The other part of the equation, though, is how long he can remain at second base. He’s just 30-years-old, but with a potential of five seasons on his contract, will he be able to maintain the ability to stick at second for the entirety of that?

There’s no doubt the Reds added offense to the lineup with this signing. And they absolutely needed to add offense. The question is how much of the value is going to be given back on the defensive side of the ledger. With how the game is moving with more strikeouts than ever, and the defensive positioning, defensive value is at it’s lowest point in the history of the game. But it still does matter. Cincinnati’s front office has a much better feel for the +/- on this one as they most certainly have better defensive metrics than the publicly available ones. For me? I’m going to trust them on this one that the math worked out well enough for this trade off.

5 Responses

  1. wes

    Nailed it Doug with that statement about how defense value is at it’s lowest point in history!

  2. RedNat

    thank you Doug. you make some great points about today’s game. But I have to tell I think the defense and (baserunning) last year really hurt the reds. besides Iggy at short and Puig in right making spectacular plays the defense was really awful. it just seemed like the timing of the errors were really bad and cost us a lot of games early and again later in the season.
    Scheblers gaffs in center, Peraza and Vanmeter’s in left really just seem to take the sails out of the reds during games and I think could have changed the outcomes.
    Just hope Bell will put players in positions they are comfortable with this year with less experimentation.

    • Doug Gray

      Defense isn’t as important as it used to be. But that, of course, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter. As you noted, there were more than a few times that the defensive issues led to some real problems for the Reds.

  3. Big Ed

    Moose has a nice, compact, fluid swing. I know that clip shows him booming the ball every time, and every hitter looks good when that happens, but his swing ought to age gracefully.

  4. Northern Ky Reds

    Reds are pretenders. He, along with whoever else they trade or sign for, will be traded. These players know that. Reds are fooling themselves and you for believing.