From Panda to Moose: Why the Red Sox must trade for Moustakas

May 1, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) warms up before the game against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
May 1, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) warms up before the game against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox need an upgrade at third base and Mike Moustakas of the reeling Kansas City Royals seems like the perfect fit.

Ever since Mike Lowell‘s departure in 2010, the Boston Red Sox have struggled mightily to find a replacement at third base.

The Red Sox tried fan-favorite Kevin Youkilis at the position in 2011, but his time in Boston quickly went south following the hiring of then-manager Bobby Valentine. Will Middlebrooks showed bundles of promise until he began to not be able to hit for average whatsoever.

After the failed Middlebrooks experiment, the Red Sox went out on a limb and bet $95 million on Pablo Sandoval going into the 2015 season. At the time, the vibe around Sandoval was pretty good: He was coming off his third World Series title in five years. Throughout his time in San Francisco, it was not just his great regular season consistency that impressed. It was also his stunning success in the postseason.

But the signing flopped.

In his first year, he hit a mediocre .245 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI. His season was shortened due to injury and for Sandoval, 2016 contained six at-bats in three games (zero hits). His 2016 struggles happened on the field, as well as off the field, as Sandoval showed up to Spring Training incredibly overweight.

During the time in which Sandoval was sidelined, the Sox found a needle in a haystack with Travis Shaw. Shaw showed tons of promise during his tenure with the team in 2015. He played the back-half of that season, hitting .270 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI in just 65 games. With Shaw, the Red Sox thought they had finally found the answer to their third base woes. At the start of 2016, they even chose Shaw over Sandoval.

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

But after a mediocre 2016, a year that saw Shaw hit .242 with 16 homers and 71 RBI, the Sox sent him away to Milwaukee.

As things stand now, Sandoval, who was supposed to be the team’s everyday third basemen, is on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained right knee and will likely not return until later this month. Thus far, Sandoval’s hit .213 with three home runs and 10 RBI.

Not exactly flattering numbers to say the least.

Brock Holt, Marco Hernandez and Josh Rutledge, all options to start in place of Sandoval, have not showed any signs of being everyday third basemen. Holt is a career utility player, Hernandez has not shown any longevity and Rutledge is a bench player.

The Red Sox do have highly-touted prospect Rafael Devers, but it may be too early to call up the young 20-year-old. He is hitting really well in Double-A Portland right now with a .322 batting average to go along with six home runs and 17 RBI. But rushing a 20-year-old to the big leagues is not always the smart route to go.

The best option for the Red Sox as of right now is to look elsewhere for a third baseman because of Sandoval’s inconsistency at the plate and staying at the right weight.

That option lies with a team spiraling out of control, the Kansas City Royals, and with their third baseman Mike Moustakas.

Moustakas has had a solid start to this season batting .250 with seven home runs and 12 RBI. His 2016 season was shortened to 27 games due to injury. But he is only two years removed from the best season of his career when he hit .284 with 22 homers and 82 RBI.

The Royals are currently 10-20 and are the worst team in baseball. They are 3-7 in their past 10 games and have been struggling ever since they opened the season by getting swept by the Minnesota Twins.

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The core of their team – Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain – will all become free agents at the end of this season. Because of the small-market payroll that they have, they most likely will not be able to re-sign all of them.

Here’s where the Royals and Red Sox are the perfect match for each other.

The Red Sox’s third base production has been underwhelming at best, as they are currently batting .221. The Royals are falling into more and more turmoil by the day and re-signing Hosmer, Cain and Moustakas seems almost impossible.

The best option for both sides is a trade involving Moustakas. Moustakas’ name has been rumored with other teams but there is no reason as to why he could not go to the Red Sox even as a rental. Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski loves giving up a lot in return for rentals. The Royals would almost most definitely be satisfied with whatever they would get from the Sox.

The Red Sox could wait until the trade deadline to get Moustakas. However, now would be the best time considering the Royals have the worst record in baseball. Also, only trading Moustakas away would not blow the entire Royals team up. They would still be able to win.

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For the Red Sox, they would be able to solidify the third baseman’s spot for this season at the very least and help their ailing power problem that they have had since the start.

It’s a win-win.