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Phillies Rumors: Club focusing on Mike Moustakas, Eduardo Escobar

Mike Moustakas (left) and Eduardo Escobar (right) are two fallback options for the Phillies. (Arturo Pardavila III and Keith Allison)

When dealing with the Baltimore Orioles, it’s hard to assume anything is final until a press release is put out and a news conference is held. But for all intents and purposes, it appears that the Philadelphia Phillies will finish as one of the runners-up to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade sweepstakes. That puts the pursuit of Machado off until the offseason, and forces general manager Matt Klentak to consider some lesser options.

According to‘s Todd Zolecki, two of those options are Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and Minnesota Twins infielder Eduardo Escobar:

A source said the Phillies will turn their attention to players like Mike Moustakas, Eduardo Escobar and others for help on the left side of the infield. Phillies shortstops have a .634 OPS, which ranks 27th in baseball.

This isn’t the first time that the Phillies have been liked to Moustakas, a two-time All-Star. Late in June, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that the Phillies and Royals had discussed Moustakas. This came shortly after Robert Murray, writing for FanRag 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.

A free-agent-to-be, the 29-year-old is slashing .249/.306/.466 with 19 home runs and 58 RBIs. The two-time American League champion has also displayed an ability to play first base in recent weeks, though that likely isn’t of interest to the Phillies, who have Carlos Santana entrenched at first base and a natural first baseman, Rhys Hoskins, playing left field.

It’s difficult to tell how much of an upgrade Moustakas would be at this juncture. Maikel Franco is slashing .326/.392/.543 with three home runs and nine RBIs in July. Though Moustakas has graded out better as a fielder, it’s a fair debate to have whether it’s worth parting with a prospect for what would likely only be a slight upgrade. Franco’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors, but if finishes the season in Philadelphia, the left-handed hitting Moustakas may just be a platoon partner.

Escobar – also an impending free-agent – may actually make more sense for the Phillies. The 29-year-old is currently slashing .271/.327/.507 with 14 home runs and 57 RBIs. Perhaps most appealing about Escobar is that he can play both shortstop and third base. This would allow him to push both Franco at third base and Scott Kingery at shortstop. Kingery could even become a super-utility player down the stretch of the season. And J.P. Crawford, who is a natural shortstop that has graded out better defensively at third base, could also move between the two positions when he returns from the disabled list.

Though Escobar’s defensive metrics have slipped in recent years, his flexibility would seem to make him a better fit for the Phillies than Moustakas, who would be more valuable to an American League team, where he could play third base, first base and DH. Escobar has also played in the outfield, so he could get an occasional start in right field as well.

The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31.

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