The Braves could still use a third baseman.
I know what your thinking. Probably something like “have you seen what Johan Camargo is doing?”
Yes, I have and it’s been awesome to watch. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been tweeting about Johan a lot lately. The improvements he’s made in critical areas has been nothing short of amazing and he probably deserves his own post soon.
Camargo currently has a 120 wRC+, a BABIP that has room to go up, positive defense at multiple positions, and serious improvement in plate discipline that’s led to an elite walk rate. He’s been crazy good.
But the Braves should still trade for Mike Moustakas.
Most of you probably don’t believe that but I’m going to see if I can convince you.
The first reason the Braves should trade for Mike Moustakas is depth. Atlanta really doesn’t have depth. I mean they have other players they can play but they don’t really have other good players they can play. Watching teams like the Cubs, the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Astros or the Indians, it becomes clear what depth looks like on contenders. Preston Tucker and Charlie Culberson have shown their worth, but Atlanta could use more depth. Are you really excited to see Ryan Flaherty bat in key situations during a pennant race? Or Peter Bourjos?
And depth isn’t just about talent, but about options. Imagine having Freeman, Albies, Swanson, Camargo, and Moustakas all available for the infield. You could give Albies a day off with Camargo at 2b and not feel like your substantially worse. Or give Swanson a day against a particularly tough RHP. Or even Freeman, on days his wrist is a little sore, could take a day with Moose at 1B and Camargo at 3B. Depth not only provides insurance for when injuries happen but also helps prevent future injuries by providing opportunities for rest. And opportunities for rest that don’t dramatically reduce the talent you have on the field. Imagine being able to give guys regular rest throughout the season while also being able to optimize match-ups and maintain your baseline talent level.
The Braves haven’t been great at planning out rest and having five players for four spots isn’t the tragedy it’s made out to be. Keeping players healthy and fresh should be seen as a positive. Go look at what the Cubs do with all their position players. Freeman and Swanson have already had wrist scares this year and Ozzie looks more and more like he could use a day. Being able to rotate talented, and interchangeable pieces on a regular basis to help navigate a 6 month season should be the goal. And Moustakas gives you that.
But it’s not just about depth. There’s statistical reasoning behind this as well. Consider this:
- As a team, Atlanta has a .348 OBA vs LHP (1st in MLB)
- As a team, Atlanta has a .306 OBA vs RHP (16th in MLB)
Atlanta’s lineup needs help against RHP. We saw it again Sunday when a relatively unknown RHP shut Atlanta’s offense down for a large part of the game. The Braves won 3 of 4 vs Washington but anyone who watched that whole series knows how bad the offense struggled. And those struggles have been lingering for a while now. And most of the time, it’s against a RHP. Mike Moustakas has a .350 OBA vs RHP. He can help.
Moustakas also fits what Atlanta has been doing in other areas. The Braves made a conscious effort to be better on defense in 2018 and Moose wouldn’t effect that. After an uncharacteristically bad year on defense last year, Moustakas has only made 2 errors at 3B this year and grades out as a league average defender with DRS and UZR.
Moustakas also carries one of the lowest strikeout rates you’ll see for a guy with his power. A .231 ISO with a K rate below 15% is a tremendous ratio and is nothing new for Moose. This is what does. There’s something very comforting about the idea of another legitimate power threat in the lineup that could change the game with one swing. Especially when the offense is struggling and it sometimes feels like it’s going to be Freeman or nobody.
The other appealing aspect of Moustakas is he’s cheap. Both from a salary and trade value standpoint. Moose signed a 1-year 5.5M deal this off-season, which is ridiculously cheap for his skills and value. And because he signed a 1-year deal, he’s obviously a rental for this season. And as we learned last year with JD Martinez, rentals just don’t fetch much in trades these days. Especially when the 3B market looks to be saturated with so many options. Kansas City, unable to give him a qualifying offer this winter, will be fully inclined to move him and it really won’t take much to make it happen.
So he’s really good, really cheap to pay, really cheap to acquire, excels in the area Atlanta currently struggles in, allows them to rest and rotate key players, blocks no prospects long-term, and provides them a level of depth they haven’t had in years.
Oh, and he’s loved by his teammates, won a World Series, and is chock full of MLB and playoff experience, which coaches and GMs swear by.
I can probably sit down and write out the case why they won’t do it but you have to admit, that’s a pretty good case why they should do it.