Red Sox Free Agency: Five high-profile players to avoid

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TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 20: Mike Moustakas (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 20: Mike Moustakas (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Mike Moustakas

A Red Sox team desperate for more power should have interest in a player who blasted 38 homers last year, right? Yet Mike Moustakas still seems like a risky investment.

His home run total tied for eighth in the majors and led all third basemen but his track record doesn’t suggest this production is sustainable. Moustakas’ previous career-high was 22 home runs in 2015 and he averaged just over 15 per season over the previous three years. Moose did show signs of his power emerging last year when he hit 7 home runs in 27 games before a torn ACL ended his season. Was that a sign of things to come or a small sample size fluke?

Even if his newfound power numbers are legitimate, Moustakas still comes with some concerns. He’s a free-swinger, posting a 55.6 percent swing rate that was one of the highest in the league. Surprisingly, his strikeout rate has reasonable for a power hitter who swings as frequently as Moustakas. However, the lack of strikeouts was offset by his dismal 5.7 BB% this season.

Moose isn’t a high-average hitter and his inability to draw walks leaves him with a discouraging .305 OBP for his career. He relies on power to prop up his value but has a limited track record as a true home run threat. If his home run total drifts back toward his pre-2017 levels then the team that signs him will be stuck paying star-caliber money to a merely average hitter.

He has been either about average or borderline elite at third base, depending on which defensive metrics you favor. Defensive Runs Saved hasn’t been as kind to measuring his abilities at the hot corner as UZR/150 has been, yet he has at least been solid for most of his career. Moose declined significantly this year with career-low marks of -8 DRS and -3.6 UZR/150, although that may have been due to working his way back from a knee injury.

If his work in the field bounces back then Moustakas provides a more reliable glove at third base than Rafael Devers but the Red Sox aren’t ready to give up on the 20-year old’s ability to handle the position. Moose would need to be willing to at least consider a move to first base or DH to be a fit in Boston. His value would dip if he wasn’t a third baseman, likely making him overpriced.

If we could bank on a repeat of his 38-homer performance then Moustakas would be a fine solution to Boston’s most glaring weakness yet in a market where power is plentiful there are better options that come with less risk or provide better value.