The Philadelphia Phillies have a rather crowded infield situation, but it still appears that general manager Matt Klentak is looking to upgrade the left side of the infield.
According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Phillies have had fairly substantive conversations with the Kansas City Royals regarding third baseman Mike Moustakas:
According to a baseball source, Phillies and Royals officials have had discussions about Moustakas and Royals scouts have been peeking in on prospects in the Phillies’ minor-league system in advance of a possible deal.
Earlier this month, Robert Murray of FRS Sports predicted that the Phillies would be “major players” for Moustakas, saying that scouts were “buzzing” about how good of a fit Moustakas would be for the Phillies.
Moustakas, 29, is currently slashing .255/.310/.467 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs. The two-time All-Star would represent an immediate upgrade over Maikel Franco or J.P. Crawford (when he returns from the disabled list) at third base. He would also provide a veteran presence – one who has played in the World Series twice – to one of the youngest clubhouses in baseball.
Technically, Moustakas would be a rental, as he’s eligible to become a free-agent this offseason. He does have a $15 million mutual option for 2019, though mutual options are rarely exercised – one side usually has enough leverage to test the market. In the interim, Moustakas would improve the Phillies as they compete to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011. If things went well, however, the Phillies could very well re-sign Moustakas.
For those wondering, while the Phillies would be extremely unlikely to trade for both Moustakas and Baltimore Orioles shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado this summer, it feels entirely possible that they could employ both in 2019. The Phillies, if they chose to do so, could trade for Moustakas and then re-sign him this offseason to play third base. That wouldn’t preclude them from signing Machado, who, by all indications, prefers to play his natural position of shortstop anyway.
It’s not clear what a Machado/Moustakas combination on the left side of the infield would mean for the Phillies futures of Crawford, Scott Kingery and Cesar Hernandez, though perhaps that would be a good problem for the Phillies to have.
Per Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News, the Phillies had a scout present during the Rangers series with the Minnesota Twins last weekend. That adds onto past reports from Jon Morosi of MLB.com and Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe that said the Phillies had interest in future Hall of Fame third baseman Adrian Beltre. Like Moustakas, Beltre would be a rental. It’s unclear what level of interest the Phillies would have in retaining Beltre, who is 39, past 2018 if they completed a trade for him.
And for as unlikely as some outlets suggest the Phillies are to trade for Machado without a guarantee that he’ll re-sign at the end of the season, Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports did report Thursday that the Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers have been the two most aggressive teams in pursuit of Machado. Strange things happen in July. Given the dysfunctional nature of the Orioles organization, one of those strange things could be them altogether not trading Machado, even if they know they’ll lose him in free-agency this offseason. But perhaps the Orioles will lower their asking price for Machado in the coming weeks, making a trade with the Phillies more realistic.