In an interesting move, the Colorado Rockies have brought infielder Mike Moustakas to camp on a Minor League deal. The move comes on the heels of Colorado losing 2B Brendan Rodgers for an extended period of time due to a shoulder injury. Let’s take a look at Moustakas’ 2022 campaign, and how he could fit into Colorado’s plans for this upcoming season.
A Look at Moustakas
The past three seasons have not gone well for former Reds infielder Mike Moustakas. Moustakas, who was DFA’d by the Reds in December after Cincinnati brought in Wil Myers, had his worst season of his 12-year-career last year. Across 285 plate appearances, Moustakas hit .214/.295/.345 with seven home runs, 19 extra base hits and 25 RBIs. Moustakas’ .640 OPS was a career-worst, and the veteran infielder sported sky-high Chase% (37.4%) and Whiff% (29.2%) rates.
At his best, Moustakas can offer pop, and a good eye at the plate despite below-average Chase% rates. However, he’s been far too aggressive in recent seasons. Not to mention, he’s been unable to square up pitches when he is making contact. The ex-Red recorded a 36.7% Under%, over 10% below the MLB average.
While Moustakas did have a rough campaign — and a rough stretch overall in Cincinnati — the 2015 World Series champion could vault back into the Majors in 2023. The shoulder injury that Brendan Rodgers sustained early in Spring Training offers Moustakas an opportunity to be a regular in the Majors. Per Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Moustakas is slated to be a second baseman in Colorado, and replace the 26-year-old who went down this past week.
What it Means
On a Minor League deal, there’s no harm in bringing a veteran like Mike Moustakas. If it works out, then the Rockies get the 34-year-old on a very friendly deal. If not, Colorado can easily cut bait.
One would think that just from looking at his batted ball profiles over the past few seasons and his power numbers, the slugger could benefit from playing in Coors Field. But, it’s not like Moustakas didn’t spend the past three years in a hitter-friendly environment.
The problem is that Moustakas has just not been the same hitter that he was with both Kansas City and Milwaukee. The 2B/3B has dealt with issues squaring pitches up, and below-average contact rates have made things much more problematic for the once-elite infielder. If Colorado can clean things up with Moustakas, though, perhaps this move may look like a steal.
Another layer to this move is that Ryan McMahon will stick at third base for 2023. That makes sense, given that McMahon is one of the league’s better defenders at the hot corner. On the other hand, the injury to Rodgers did offer infielders Nolan Jones and Elehuris Montero a unique opportunity to fit in the Rockies’ future plans. Jones was acquired this past winter from the Guardians, while Montero was a key piece that went to Colorado in the Nolan Arenado deal. Both have shown flashes of brilliance in the Minors, but both have yet to accrue regular playing time in the Majors thus far.
Jones, in particular, is someone that could benefit from regular playing time in Coors Field given his raw strength and power. But for now, it looks like “Moose” will get a crack in the Rockies infield as a regular.