Yesterday saw the media announce the Cincinnati Reds agreeing to terms on a 4-year and $64M deal with free agent Mike Moustakas. The Reds haven’t officially announced the deal yet. That likely means that they are simply waiting for the player to pass a physical. It’s not only the largest contract ever handed out by the Reds in free agency to a position player (by $47M), it’s also the largest contract ever given out to a free agent by the Reds. The previous record deal was given out to closer Francisco Cordero more than a decade ago.

If you pour through the comments section here at Redleg Nation, hang out on twitter, troll on facebook, or listen to sports talk radio – you likely heard varying opinions on what the Reds agreed to yesterday. But what is the national media saying about the deal with their initial reactions? Here are a few of the early reactions.

The Athletic

Over at The Athletic they had several of their writers chime in on the deal. You’ll need a subscription to read the entire piece, but here’s an quick take from Marc Craig from within:

The need for Moustakas was clear, and the Reds paid quite the premium, doling out a 4-year, $64 million deal to a player who will be 31 on Opening Day. So what? Moustakas makes the Reds better immediately, and that means something for a franchise that has signaled their aspirations. Deals like this provide insights into how an organization views itself. Not only do the Reds see themselves as contenders, but they also sense an urgency to get back to the playoffs for the first time since a wild-card game loss to the Pirates 2013. Clearly, the Reds also see themselves as resourceful enough to make Moustakas work at second base thanks to the use of careful positioning.

Timing also comes into play. The Reds have assembled a strong pitching staff, and there aren’t any super teams residing in the NL Central. There’s an opportunity to make some noise and the Reds aren’t letting it pass.

Ken Rosenthal, Jayson Stark, C. Trent Rosecrans, Andy McCullough, and Eno Sarris all also weighed in on the deal.

MLB Trade Rumors

Jeff Todd was appointed the coverage at MLB Trade Rumors of the signing of Mike Moustakas by the Cincinnati Reds.

Even at his best, Moustakas has never rated as a true star. He has topped 2.0 fWAR in each of the past three campaigns but hasn’t gone past 3.0 since 2015. While bWAR put him at 3.2 wins above replacement in 2019, it took a dimmer view of his prior three seasons. And at this point, youth isn’t really on Moose’s side. But the Reds obviously feel that Moustakas will continue to be a steady producer and were willing to pay for his consistency. It stands to reason that other teams did as well, since the bidding pushed so far north.

Jon Heyman

On twitter, Jon Heyman chimed in a little bit after announcing the deal between the Cincinnati Reds and Mike Moustakas.

Moustakas will play 2B for Reds. Looked good there for Brewers. Reds are looking pretty good for next year. Rotation was already strong, and lineup is looking better. Could they be the NL Central favorite?

National League Central favorite? That sounds nice, doesn’t it?

ESPN

Keith Law’s headline at ESPN (an ESPN+ article, which requires a subscription to read) is: Reds overpay Mike Moustakas in bid to move up in NL Central….. He hates it. For the Reds.

Mike Moustakas might have been a good fit for a lot of clubs, but the Reds were not one of them.

82 Responses

  1. Kurt Frost

    I’ve noticed in the past that Keith Law doesn’t like much of anything.

    Reply
    • Ghettotrout1

      Keith Law legitimately hates everything the Reds do. I don’t value his opinions very much at all given that when teams are not trying to bashes them for tanking but when teams make trades like the Reds did for Bauer or this signing in order to try to compete he also bashes them. Also if you read his book smart baseball it is about as boring as watching paint dry. Jeff Passan’s book The Arm, Brian Kenny’s book Ahead of the curve and The Big 50 by Chad are much more enjoyable to read. Thats my 2 cents.

      Reply
      • Jordan

        Brian Kenny’s book is amazing. Listened to it in audiobook format on a drive down to Florida, and I was enthralled the entire way.

      • earmbrister

        I agree Ghetto. Law doesn’t have much to say positive about the Reds. Of course, I don’t have much positive to say about Keith Law … He seems more than a bit full of himself.

    • DAVID F. HERRMANN

      Of course he doesn’t like the move.
      He’s ESPN and it’s a Cincinnati team that made the move.

      Reply
  2. wizeman

    Sometimes you have to roll the dice a bit. Just happy that they are making attempts to better themselves. The “get the hitting” mantra was the driving force and we were proactive enough to get some.
    Once it was announced that the White Sox were going to limit Grandals time behind the plate…it became apparent that we had no shot so money was not spent on an incremental improvement behind the plate.
    I would lime the Reds to make a hard run at Wheeler and see if you could put a blockbuster deal for Trevor Story. Perhaps package Mahle, Iglesias and a strong prospect and see if the perk up.

    Reply
    • Scott C

      MLB Trade Rumors has Wheeler down as having already received an offer in 9 figures over 5 years. Those are the kind of signings that can burn a team for a long time if they don’t payoff. Could be a big payoff but if you want to put it into context think about how many people are whining about Votto’s contract and he is a position player.

      Reply
      • Doug Gray

        You misunderstood. They said chicken pox are contagious. Chicken pox.

      • Michael E

        Losing is contagious. Ah, but curable. Imagine you are a boat…

        We need that therapist from The Natural. LOL

  3. doofus

    Nice, an overpaid, 31 year old, 225 pound third baseman who apparently will play 2B has averaged only .92 hits per game over his major league career.

    Yeah, I know he has hit a bunch of HR’s lately, but I like my simple, hits/game benchmark. I like performance indicators whose components can be followed, not the advanced esoteric metrics that only HAL 2000 can calculate.

    1. I think he will help the Reds at the plate in 2020, after that, pffft; and,

    2. That he will make Scooter Gennett look like the second coming of Brandon Phillips (yeah, I hear that analytics will put him in the correct position to field a ball, but will the ball be hit to that spot everytime?).

    Questions:
    1. Will Suarez be traded for more pieces? I know that he would fit with ATL, NYM, TB, CLV, LAD, MIN, WAS, TEX, MIL (unlikely).

    2. Does the FO really think Senzel is the long term answer in CF, or will he be on the move?

    I am in the middle on this signing. Yes, I know the Reds have to overpay, every team does when the supply for a certain commodity is scarce (i.e. hitters this offseason). I am somewhat underwhelmed with this signing, but after all a team can never have enough third basemen.

    Reply
    • Tv

      Could not be any worse than scooter but is definitely better than Derrick. He will also play first on days Joey sits. He can move around and that’s bells style.

      Reply
      • doofus

        “He can move around…” Does that mean he has a lot of range or that he can play multiple positions?

        He played 35 innings at 1B in 2018 and 360 at 2B last year. That is a total of 4.4% of his total innings played in the major leagues. I do not think we can say that Moose can play multiple positions “well” enough until he has actually done it enough.

        Just because David Bell moves players around the field doesn’t mean they can actually play all those positions. After all, he is the one that played Deitrich at 2B last season.

      • Gonzo Reds

        Think a healthy Scooter just as good and much cheaper. Rather have a CF with Senzel at 2b. We still need speed at the top of the lineup. That could have come from CF more than Senzel. SS perhaps now, Villar?

      • doofus

        Villar was trade to the Marlins the other day.

    • Wes

      Seems to me reds are focused on excellent pitching and then willing to sacrifice defense and obp for power in the line up. So that makes suarez more valuable since he was the only one hitting homers for this team last year and it would take a monster package to pry him away from reds that most of the teams u mentioned will not entertain. Example it would take WAY more than Royce Lewis to trade him to Minnesota. More like Lewis, Buxton and Graterol. That’s a sufficient return but it makes reds worse for 2020 which isn’t the plan.

      Reply
      • doofus

        Actually, I do not think we can truly say that teams “will not entertain” a trade for Suarez. There was interest from the Padres last offseason.

        There is a demonstrated need for third basemen this offseason. Supply is short. Lord knows the Reds have plenty of third basemen.

      • doofus

        “Excellent” pitching needs excellent defense.

    • Doc

      Why don’t you publish your metric, as well as the data and supporting mathematics behind it? That’s what the others have done. Yours might be much better…or might not.

      Reply
      • doofus

        You talking to me Doc? If so, I did. Hits/game is simply hits divided by games played. Apply it to position players to get a quick read on a hitter.

        When I have mentioned the simple benchmarks that I prefer I have illustrated how they are calculated. Perhaps you do not read my inciteful comments?

      • earmbrister

        Doofus, hits per game? Could you come up with anything more obscure? Hits per Tuesday perhaps. Because BA is just too hard to understand … How about OPS+, which is a much more meaningful yardstick than anything based on just hits?

  4. IndyRedsFan

    I think this is a deal that helps them a lot in 2020 and potentially hurts them in 2023.

    I’m okay with that. Bauer, Desclafani, Castillo and Gray all will likely be gone by then.

    The Reds are clearly going “all in” for 2020 while they have the pitching……and after waiting for the “future” for years….I’m excited about that.

    Reply
  5. Hotto4Votto

    I agree with those who are stating the Reds had to overpay a bit. The fact that this is their largest FA contract in their history should tell you all you need to know there. As someone else said last night, I’d rather overpay in dollars than in prospects. Bad contracts can be moved (ie Kemp, Bailey…). With that said, based on $/WAR estimators, there’s a decent chance he’s worth his contract. Last I checked 1 WAR = around $8m on the FA market. He covers that by being a 2 WAR player throughout his contract.

    The number of years were a little surprising, but I wouldn’t worry too much about the age factor. Most good players will still produce into their mid-thirties with only subtle declines from their prime. 35 seems to be the drastic drop off.

    Recent Reds: Brandon Phillips at age 34 97 OPS+ and 3.4 bWAR. That 2015 OPS+ was his highest since 2012 (99) and did not top it after.
    Scott Rolen at age 34 116 OPS+ with 3.9 bWAR (TOT) and 1.3 WAR (CIN).
    Joey Votto at age 34 126 OPS+ with a 3.5 bWAR.

    All three were still very productive players in their age 34 season. Rolen went on to have one more really productive year. (I’m hoping Votto will find some more production too).

    Playing him at 2B is my one concern, and that concern grows as he ages. I asked yesterday, and don’t believe the Reds would consider this, but I wonder if Suarez would be better at 2B than Moose? Suarez does have middle infield experience, albeit from SS. There was also a lot of discussion around the internets prior Senzel’s move to 2B and then CF that Suarez may move their to accommodate Senzel.

    Overall, I like the FO’s commitment to upgrading the offense. Please don’t stop here.

    Reply
  6. Tom Mitsoff

    Will this signing result in maximum value for all four years? Probably not. Will Moustakas be a Gold-Glove second baseman? Probably not. Will Moustakas suddenly exceed his career OBP of around .320? Probably not.

    Will Moustakas come close to doubling the offensive output of Jose Peraza? Possibly.

    In an off-season in which the obvious goal was to #getthehitting, the Reds made a bold move to do so. Before Moustakas’ deal is done, Redleg Nation will almost certainly be complaining that he is-was overpaid. This is the risk you HAVE to take when you are bidding on sought-after players. Last year, the Dodgers paid the oft-injured A.J. Pollock $55 million over four years. They took the risk, and sometimes risks work out well, and sometimes they don’t.

    We Redleg Nation inhabitants are not used to their team taking risks with contracts for players not already on the roster. This is what the competitive teams do.

    Purely speculation — perhaps the current contract demands by Gregorius, Ozuna and Castellanos are viewed as even more risky by Reds management and ownership. And perhaps the numbers Moustakas was willing to sign for were viewed as the least risky of among the impact bats on the free-agent market. In the past, the Reds have avoided risk like the plague. Now, they seem to realize that to ensure that they acquire impact bats, they need to take risks like the contending teams do.

    Contracts aside, Moustakas is likely to at least double of Peraza’s production in OPS+ and WAR, and that’s called vastly improving a position in your starting lineup.

    With all of this being said, it seems likely that the front office will turn its attention to impact bats that have very high OBP’s.

    Reply
    • Fish

      The more I think about this, the more I think it’s a fair deal although the general $$/war analysis lacks the sophistication to look at the incremental value of greater war (i.e a 1 war player is less than half as valuable as a 2 war player and less than 1/3 as valuable as a 3 war player). They’re basically paying him to average 2 WAR a year at $8 million per WAR (64 million over 4 years, 8 WAR over 4 years). That actually seems relatively conservative given he was a 3 WAR player last year. I don’t love it given similar 2B contracts and it doesn’t have a lot of surplus value but its not bad and he’s definitely an impact bat for next year.

      Reply
    • doofus

      “…perhaps the current contract demands by Gregorius, Ozuna and Castellanos are viewed as even more risky by Reds management and ownership.”

      Interesting. Nice insight.

      Reply
      • David

        Indeed. I think Tom has made a very good point that has not been seen elsewhere.

    • Matt WI

      Given that nothing is a certainty in this game, this move takes the Reds from going into the season with a “strategy” of “Just maybe if…. Peraza or scrap heap player X can really get it…” and now are going into the season with “Moose will more than likely produce in a useful way”

      Reply
  7. Ed

    Moustakas is obviously a big step up from what we had. It would be great to add a high OBP shortstop and some outfielders to the lineup.

    Reply
    • doofus

      I would settle for a glove first SS. Nick Ahmed? Makes $6.25MM in 2020; a FA in 2021.

      Reply
      • JoshG

        Galvis is already there as a glove first SS.. with some pop in his bat

      • doofus

        Glavis’ glove not even close to Ahmed’s glove work. Galvis would become the back-up SS/2B.

  8. doctor

    While I do like the player, my issue is the view this is an overpay to get him and he is not the type of player to overpay for. Grandal would have the player/position to overpay for, or a solid SS or a quality SP like a Wheeler (even given some of his “warts”).

    However, its done and it does accomplish some obvious things: ie add more offense/power, fixes a hole at a position of need. Also, seemingly ends the speculation on where Senzel is going to play, so now he and Reds can concentrate on him improving in CF. It also shows Reds FO is really trying to win this year and thats a good thing too.

    Reply
    • doofus

      Four year deals for 30+ year old catchers, a position where the player does not wear well? Naw, I think the Reds did well not to over extend themselves with Grandal.

      JB’s catching days were over after his 31 year old season.

      Reply
  9. Wes

    Winker/Ervin LF
    Senzel CF
    Votto 1
    Suarez 3
    Moose 2
    Aquino RF
    Galvis SS
    Tucker C
    P

    Possibly good enough to win the central but still tons of unproven guys in the lineup which isn’t a good thing when you are trying to win now.

    Reds had roughly 40 mil to spend before the season and committed 17 to two players they added. What do u do w remaining 23 to improve the lineup ? My preference would be to pursue Didi, then Dickerson then puig.

    Reply
    • Hotto4Votto

      They also opened up about $14m by non-tendering Guasman ($10.6m) and Peraza ($3.6m) yesterday. So you can add that to the available funds to pursue roster upgrades. That should be enough to add two more impact players in FA.

      Reply
      • Hotto4Votto

        That wasn’t my impression of where they sit with payroll. I’ve seen plenty of talk of having $35-40m prior to the non-tenders. Add back in the $14m allocated to Gausman and Peraza, subtract $16m for still seems to leave them around $35-40m to spend on payroll.

        As far as I can tell the Reds have roughly $94m committed to (with ARB estimates for Bauer, Disco, Lorenzen, Casali, and Bowman) to 12 players. Add in $16m for Moustakas that brings that total to $110m. The Reds had a payroll last season between $125-130m. Reports are they’re going well beyond that. When I read that, I think $145-150m range which fits in with the estimates of $35m-40m to spend.

      • wes

        135ish was my understanding. Hope you are right : )

        MLB broke wheeler has a 100m offer on the table- translation- Reds offer Wheeler 100M and he’s hoping someone will come in and outbid them.

        Wheeler and Dickerson will have Cincy buzzing some spring training

      • Hotto4Votto

        Well, I could certainly be under the wrong impression. Last year I thought they may go as high as $140 and they did not. Still, in my opinion, $135 isn’t much beyond where they were last year, and all indications are they are going to be beyond that. According to USA Today last March the Reds had a $133m payroll (not counting the money sent to them by the Dodgers). I’ll keep hope alive that they’ll continue to spend.

  10. CI3J

    I’ve warmed up a little on the Moose signing. He’s a left handed power hitter, and it would not be surprising to see him hit close to 40HR playing at GABP. With he, Suarez, and Aquino, the Reds have legit power in the middle of their lineup that has been lacking for the last half decade. If Senzel, Joey, and Winker can get on base and Moose, Geno, and Aquino are there to knock them in, this offense could be pretty decent. Still need to address SS, unless they really think Galvis is the answer there which, to be fair, he’s a lot better than anything the Reds have had since Cozart skipped town.

    Still moves to be made, but I can’t say this doesn’t look like a nice upgrade on paper.

    Reply
    • Tom Mitsoff

      It is risky, IMO, to believe that Aquino is an everyday player on a championship-contending team, based on the very small sample size of 2019. I would still try to sign Castellanos and then have a Winker-Aquino platoon in the other corner outfield position.

      But the overriding objective should be to find the best impact bat with high OBP that they can find who plays any of the outfield positions, shortstop or catcher.

      Reply
      • Tom Mitsoff

        Interestingly, FanGraphs says Aquino has a minor league option remaining. It was my belief that he was out of options.

      • Doug Gray

        Added to the 40-man in November of 2016. Optioned in 2017 and 2018. DFA’d after 2018. Was never optioned in 2019.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Someone on RML suggested a trade scenario with the Mariners to target Haniger and Narvaez. Aquino was part of that package (I believe India, Mahle, and Siri were the other parts). Regardless of the specific parts, I like this idea to upgrade the offense. Haniger (and Narvaez) is a little more proven in what he brings to the table. Haniger has also posted BB% over 10 the last two seasons while having ISO’s over 200.

        I like Aquino, and it was super fun to watch him mash HRs in August. With that said, I’m with you in thinking it’s risky to count too much on him moving forward. Many of us have been down this road with him before, penciling him into future lineups after his 2016 breakout. Then he spent the next two seasons largely scuffling in AA until breaking out again in 2019. I have a sneaking suspicion he’ll be closer to September production than August until he figures out that outside breaking pitch.

  11. Ed

    Who would be a good shortstop to target via trade?

    Who would be some good OBP additions to the lineup? And more power from the outfield?

    Reply
    • Ed

      I’d love to find some balance between OBP and power with whomever they target… it’s either feast or famine, which isn’t gonna work against teams depth and variety in their lineup. Astros, Dodgers, Nats each had several MLB leaders in OBP starting… plus tons of power.

      Add a couple guys that can actually take walks

      Grandal really falls into that category, with both power and OBP.

      Reply
    • Colorado Red

      Trevor Story would be great.
      Would cost a ton of prospects and has 2 years left.
      However, I doubt the Rox want to trade him.

      Reply
    • Michael Smith

      @ed I would think Storey, Lindor and Seager would be great trade additions if their teams decide to test the market.

      Reply
  12. Jeff Gangloff

    Keith Law sounds like he’d be really fun at parties.

    Seriously, has this guy ever had anything positive to say about the Reds?

    Reply
    • TR

      Law showing up at Red’s Fest would put a damper on the festival.

      Reply
      • doofus

        No one would know that he is there. He is only 3 feet tall.

  13. jbonireland

    For all of the doomsayers regarding the 16 mil per year look at it this way. We have already saved 10.6mil on Gausman and 3.6 mil on Pereaza. That’s 14.2 mil of his 16 mil salary. Next year we will probably have Bauer’s 18.3 mil off the books.

    Reply
    • Doc

      I don’t credit the Gaussman money against an infielder signing. I think, rather, that you credit Peraza, Detrick, Iglesius and any other saved infielder money. The Gaussman money still needs to be used to acquire relief pitching, or starting pitching.

      Reply
  14. docmike

    I love this signing. For once, we obtained a good player by simply opening up the checkbook, rather than giving up valuable prospects. Yes, four years might be a year longer than I would like, but it’s not that big a deal. This will be Moose’s age 31, 32, 33, and 34 seasons, so we should be getting his last few productive years before the age-related decline.

    For those who say it’s an overpay, I disagree. As someone else pointed out, one WAR in free agency is about $8 million, so if he averages 2 WAR each season it will be a fair market deal. If he brings in more than that (which I believe he will), then it could even be considered a good deal. That said, even if it does end up being a slight overpay, who cares? The Reds had money to spend and I’m glad they are actually doing it.

    Hopefully the team isn’t done. I would like to see another impact bat, preferably also a free agent so we don’t lose any prospects.

    Reply
  15. TR

    If Moustakas is a part of rejuvenating the Red’s offense, then all to the good. If Senzel fully recovers from his injuries, I think he will be part of a future trade package, probably for pitching. Senzel, imo, should be in the infield.

    Reply
    • doofus

      Senzel talents as a player reminds me of a younger Rendon. He also had injuries stall him at the beginning of his ML career.

      Reply
  16. KDJ

    Would Moose at 3rd, Suarez at SS, Senzel at 2nd be an option if the Reds can nab a good outfielder?
    Just asking because this would not lock them into the need for SS.

    Reply
    • Doug Gray

      If Eugenio Suarez could play shortstop the Reds would have had him at shortstop instead of playing Jose Peraza and Jose Iglesias at shortstop while trying to force Nick Senzel to play somewhere other than third base over the last two years. Suarez’ days of playing shortstop are long, long gone.

      Reply
      • Sabr Chris

        A moot question now, but do you think Aquino could handle CF?

    • Dawson

      Suarez at SS won’t happen except in emergencies. I do like the idea that has been mentioned of Suarez at 2B and Moustakas at 3B. I’m still hoping for Gregorious at SS.

      Reply
      • Mark Moore

        I once saw Mike Schmidt play SS for a game … in an emergency. That’s the only situation where Geno ends up there for our Reds.

  17. David W Baumgartner

    I like the deal even if it is a bit of an overpay in years. A bigger concern for me is Aquino. Great August, horrible September and 1 year removed from being taken off 40 man roster. I hope he settles somewhere in the middle but I wouldn’t put all my eggs in that basket.

    Reply
    • Cbus

      Agreed Aquino is risky. Hope Plan A is sign Castellanos for LF and Aquino/Winker in RF should be a safer bet. Plan B Winker/Ervin in LF and Aquino in RF and upgrade SS or C with the Castellanos money, riskier but could work. Can also option Aquino if he’s failing after a month and a half and trade for a Clint Frazier type if the team is in contention.

      Reply
      • David W Baumgartner

        Would love to see Frazier come to Cincy.

  18. Mark Moore

    Keith Law being Keith Law and his personal dislike of the Reds. I do believe the last time he was almost completely positive was in the early days of the ESPN Washington Harpers …

    Beyond that, he’s generally negative.

    Reply
  19. Gaffer

    The better question is if the Reds has $64 to spend, who was that best to spend it on.

    1. That was not enough for Grandal (and he wanted DH time).
    2. Wheeler; not enough
    3. Marcel Ozuna : we will see

    Reply
  20. Michael M

    I don’t understand all the hand-wringing about a fourth year being overpaid and an obvious albatross. The man is 31 years old, not 35. Most good hitters that aren’t catchers are still solid at 35, if declining some. He’ll probably be league average at 35, which will be worth about $13 or 14 million then…hardly a concerning overpay at $16.

    Would we rather have a 28 year old for 4 years, yeah, sure, but it would also take another $5/year to get that.

    A slight, and I mean slight overpay. I would have preferred going a bit bigger for a better player, but this signing allows the Reds to sign another above average player/pitcher and be around the payroll jump they alluded to a month or two back.

    Reply
  21. Mason Red

    This move helps but if it’s the only big move this team makes….and if it was made just to make headlines…it only helps maybe reaching 500 next season. Moose isn’t a star but he is a good part of the puzzle. Without question they overpaid but at least they didn’t lose players to get him. The Reds have the money.

    Reply

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