Mike Moustakas signs with Reds
Over the last couple of offseasons, Mike Moustakas has found himself standing without a chair after the music stopped, twice settling for relatively low one-year contracts. He continued to produce, and now he has finally been rewarded for his play. The third baseman, not hindered by a qualifying offer this year, is staying in the NL Central after signing a four-year deal worth $64 million with the Reds. Cincinnati is suddenly an interesting team in a division very much in flux. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are favorites just yet, but with Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer at the top of their rotation and now an infield featuring Joey Votto, Moustakas and Eugenio Suarez there is a path to contention here. There is still plenty of time for them to do more, too. Moustakas will be playing second base for the Reds, and while that’s....interesting, it’s mostly just nice to see Moustakas get paid.
Sox Spin: Not really much to report here. Moustakas wasn’t really a target for the Red Sox, both because they are not interested in spending money and also because they probably weren’t interested in a non-second baseman to take that position.
Jurickson Profar traded to the Padres
Monday was the non-tender deadline, which means teams were trying to find trades for players they were about to non-tender anyway. Among those teams were the Oakland A’s, who were not set to bring former top prospect Jurickson Profar back. They did find a trade partner here, with the infielder heading to San Diego in exchange for catcher Austin Allen. Profar finally showed some of that potential in 2018 when he had his first above-average season at the plate, but he regressed back down to below-average levels in 2019. He’s obviously never going to live up to that former potential, but there is still plenty of potential for solid play. The Padres now have filled out their infield with Profar at second along with Manny Machado, Fernando Tatís Jr., and Eric Hosmer. Meanwhile, they had three catchers on their roster, so Allen was an expendable piece.
Sox Spin: Profar was a player I thought would have been interesting for the Red Sox, who are obviously also looking for a second baseman. The name value certainly exceeds the on-field value at this point, but if he had made it to free agency it wouldn’t have been too surprising if Boston got involved.
Jonathan Villar traded to Miami
Maybe sometimes we react too strongly to teams not spending money. That’s not for me to decide. I will say, though, it has to be a real look-in-the-mirror situation when your cheapness is being taken advantage of by the Miami Marlins. That’s rock bottom for cheap baseball teams, and it’s what happened with the Orioles on Monday. Last week they put Jonathan Villar, their best player in 2019, on waivers to avoid paying him about $10 million in arbitration. On Monday, he was sent to the Marlins in exchange for a minor-league pitcher. The Marlins get a good player here, which is a novel concept for a team that is not contending. The Orioles get to save some money, which is mind-numbing.
Sox Spin: The Marlins did put a claim in but then a team higher on the claim order list put one in, forcing them to make a trade to get their target. Miami was the worst team in the National League last year, so the team who put in the claim ahead of them had to be in the American League. The Red Sox need a second baseman, and while they probably didn’t commit to the money here I am going to live a life where I believe they are the team who put in the claim. I need this.
A whole lot of non-tenders
Once the trades were done, teams had to decide on tendering or non-tendering players. With the fringe-average players (think 1-2 WAR players) being the ones most squeezed on the open market, it only makes sense that they would be hurt in arbitration, too. Teams have suppressed the free agent market, and now they are pushing more players than ever into said market. There was a whopping 56 players non-tendered on Monday, a big increase over the last couple of years. Some big names are among them, too.
Sox Spin: We’ll do a separate article soon about non-tendered players who could be intriguing targets, because there’s too many for this space.