In a surprising move, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports that the Colorado Rockies have signed three-time All-Star Mike Moustakas to a “non-roster agreement,” giving the team another potential option in the infield in the wake of Brendan Rodgers’ injury.
After a strong 2019 campaign with the Milwaukee Brewers in which he batted .254/.329/.516 with 35 home runs and 87 RBI, Moustakas signed a lucrative four-year, $64 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds. Injuries and lack of production plagued him over the course of the contract, leading the Reds to release Moustakas in January.
As a result, should he make the roster, the Rockies will only need to pay him the league minimum while the Reds are still on the hook for the $22 million owed to him in 2023 and the $4 million buyout of his $20 million club option for 2024. In 2022, “Moose” played in 78 games, batting .214/.295/.345 with seven home runs, 25 RBI, 75 strikeouts and 24 walks.
A former first-round pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2007, Moustakas debuted in 2011 with the team and quickly cemented himself as a key player for the Royals. Most notably he was an instrumental piece to the Royals' World Series runs in 2014 and 2015, helping the team bring home a World Series title in 2015. Over the course of his 12-year career, Moustakas has a career line of .247/.308/.434 with 203 home runs and 635 RBI.
The move muddies the water of the Rockies’ infield plans for the 2023 season. After Brendan Rodgers injured his shoulder diving for a ball in a Spring Training game earlier this week, the Rockies appeared poised to move Ryan McMahon to second base while allowing Elehuris Montero and Nolan Jones to get the bulk of playing time at the hot corner.
Jon Heyman initially reported that the plan was to have Moustakas play second base in order to keep McMahon at third base. Moustakas notably moved to second base in 2019 with the Brewers and has played in just 80 career games at the position where he has a -4 DRS in 613 2⁄3 innings. However, Harding confirms that second base will not be in play for Moustakas.
“[The deal] all happened pretty quick,” Moustakas told Harding, “I got a call yesterday or the day before, and they had an opportunity for me to play here. I jumped all over it, and I’m here. I’m excited to be here.” In just 12 games at Coors Field, Moustakas has battled .324/.359/.405 with no home runs.
Injuries may be of some concern, however, but Moustakas says that he is healed up “lower-body stuff,” as well has feet injuries that limited him in Cinncinatti.
“I wanted to make sure I was healthy before it came and played...” said Moustakas, “find my way back to 100%. And about halfway through, I was like, ‘OK, I’m good to go.’”
Since it is a Minor League deal, a conversation remains if Moustakas would accept an assignment to Triple-A Albuquerque, “That’s something we’ll talk about it it happens.” he said.
If nothing else, Moustakas provides an experienced, veteran depth piece for the Rockies to provide themselves with some insurance in the hopes he can rebound. He also provides another left-handed bat with power potential for the Rockies to look at to complement the likes of Sean Bouchard and C.J. Cron.
This is the second veteran signing in as many days for the Rockies after they signed reliever Brad Hand to a one-year deal on Saturday in the wake of Lucas Gilbreath’s injury. Only time will tell how things play out with Opening Day quickly approaching in a few weeks.