The Royals were in the national news on Friday night, and it had nothing to do with their game against the Yankees (it was rained out; they have a doubleheader scheduled for today). Late last night, the Brewers and Royals pulled off a trade, with the Royals posting this on their Twitter:
We have acquired OF Brett Phillips and RHP Jorge Lopez in exchange for 3B Mike Moustakas. pic.twitter.com/ikdijqrLFy
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) July 28, 2018
The trade was expected by Royals fans ever since the season began, really. The Royals expected to sign elsewhere when he became a free agent at the conclusion of the 2017 season along with Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer. However, while Hosmer and Cain signed with the Padres and Brewers, respectively, the market for Moustakas never materialized, and he ended up re-signing with the Royals while in Spring Training for a one-year, $5.5 million deal.
Moose re-signing ended up being a blessing in disguise for both the Royals and Moose. Moose is having another solid year (20 home runs, 107 wRC+), proving that 2017 wasn’t a fluke, and the Royals got to not only keep a fan favorite a little bit longer but also got something in return for his departure. In the end, though it came as a surprise in March, Moose coming back to Kansas City was a win-win for everyone.
So, what did the Royals gain and lose in the deal overall? Let’s take a look.
What the Royals gained in the Moose trade.
The Royals received two prospects in OF Brett Phillips and RHP Jorge Lopez, a pretty good haul considering how close the Royals were to the deadline. To give some context, the Brewers have a pretty deep farm system, as Baseball America ranked them 6th overall in their talent rankings going into 2018
Phillips is the crown jewel of the deal, as he was the 7th rated prospect in the Brewers system and the 80th best prospect in baseball overall by Baseball America going into the 2018 season. Phillips, however, was unable to break into a crowded Brewers outfield (which sports Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich this year), as he has only appeared in 52 games and accumulated 122 plate appearances the past two years in Milwaukee. This year has also been a little slow for Phillips in Triple-A, as Phillips is only posting a slash of .240/.331/.411 with an OPS of .742 and 6 home runs in 299 plate appearances in Colorado Springs. That being said, he has demonstrated success in Colorado Springs before, as he hit 19 home runs and posted an OPS of .944 in 432 plate appearances in 2017.
Patrick Brennan of Royals Farm Report had a pretty good write up on Phillips, and had this to say about the prospect on Twitter:
Phillips is a pretty well rounded player. Does everything well. Can play all three positions, cannon in the outfield, has some pop in the bat, hit tool isn’t terrible.
He’s a 45 FV prospect. That would make him easily a top 10 guy in the org, right outside the top five.
— Patrick Brennan (@paintingcorner) July 28, 2018
The other player acquired in the deal is Jorge Lopez, a reliever who has appeared in 10 games this season and has accumulated 19.2 IP and a 2.75 ERA and 1.48 whip this season. Lopez was drafted in the 2nd round in 2011 out of Puerto Rico and originally broke into the Brewers system as a starter. However, he transitioned to the bullpen last year, and so far the results have been mixed. While he has been decent with the big league club, he still struggles with command, as evidenced by 1.15 K/BB ration, and his ERA and WHIP numbers look worse in Triple-A as it was 5.65 and 1.50 respectively in 28.2 IP with Colorado Springs in 2018.
Ironically, much like Goodwin, I wrote a piece featuring Lopez prior to the 2011 MLB Draft. Here’s what I said about Lopez in the post:
“John Sickels has Lopez projected to go at the 49th slot in his latest mock supplemental first round draft. Lopez is a high-ceiling arm, with a nice frame and good stuff according to reports. While Puerto Rican prospects usually don’t have a history of going high in the draft (Luis Atilano was the highest pick from Puerto Rico in the history of the draft, as he went No. 35 in 2003), Lopez seems to be an exception to the rule.
According to a report by Perfect Game USA, Lopez is getting comparisons to Javier Vazquez. He still has a lot of room to develop as a pitcher (he’s six-foot-four inches, and 175 pounds), but already he sports a fastball that goes in the low 90’s and a good spinning curve ball that has gotten good reports from scouts. An excellent athlete (Lopez played volleyball, basketball and ran track in addition to baseball), Lopez used to be a shortstop before he converted to the mound full time.”
The shine of Lopez as a prospect has certainly faded a bit the past couple of seasons, as he was unranked in the Brewers system, a far cry from his days where he rated as the 59th best prospect overall by Baseball America going into 2016. However, Lopez should bring some much-needed depth to the Royals bullpen in the immediate future. It’s definitely possible he could develop into a solid setup man or perhaps a closer in the near future should the Royals part ways with Wily Peralta (also a former Brewers top pitching prospect).
What did the Royals lose in the deal?
Obviously, the Royals lost Moustakas, which while expected, is still a tough pill to swallow for Royals fans. Moose was one of the first big prospects drafted by Dayton Moore, and from the day he was drafted, it was understood that the Royals’ future success would depend on him. Thankfully, he panned out and became a key cog for the Royals’ success from 2013-2017 along with Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Eric Hosmer.
In 934 games and 3,735 plate appearances over eight seasons with the Royals, Moose hit 139 home runs and had a career OPS+ of 98. However, Moose really developed and hit his stride as a player in 2015, his first All-Star appearance. If you look at his numbers from 2015-2018, Moustakas hit 87 home runs and had an average OPS+ of 114.3 in the four-year span, and he did this despite missing most 2016 due to a knee injury (he only played in 27 games).
With Moustakas gone, the hole at third will most likely be filled by a rotating door of players, with Hunter Dozier and Rosell Herrera being the most logical options to fill in immediately. This season, Dozier has an OPS+ of 61, and Herrera has an OPS+ of 77, both far cries from Moose’s 111 OPS+ as a Royal this year. It will be interesting to see how Ned Yost will manage the position and who will emerge as the more regular third baseman of the two. Dozier is a former first-round draft pick who has struggled with the bat since getting injured a year ago, and Herrera was a recent waiver wire pickup who used to be a top prospect in the Rockies system but has a tendency to be too free-swinging and lacks power. Both certainly have potential, but they both have a lot to do to make up for Moose’s production at the hot corner.
However, the biggest loss from the Moose trade definitely comes in the clubhouse, as Moose developed as a more vocal leader during the past four years. Royals MLB.com beat writer Jeff Flanagan shared this tweet today about Moose:
Alex Gordon said he will always remember Moose for the fiery rant in the dugout in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the 2015 ALDS in Houston.
— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) July 28, 2018
There was a lot of great things to remember about Moose: the diving catch in the stands in Game 3 of the 2014 ALCS, the Moose antlers at games and crossing signs, the resting bitch face he seemed to employ 24/7. However, what made Moose great was that he showed that the Royals could draft good players, develop them, and see them win with the Royals, not some other club. The Royals have had a penchant for drafting and developing guys, only to see them win with their next club. Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, Carlos Beltran, and Zach Greinke are just a few of the names who performed well with Royals initially, only to find more individual and team success with another club. Moose bucked that trend, and for a little bit, he showed that Dayton Moore wasn’t a complete jackass.
And Moose represented a lot of what Kansas City was about. He probably was the most relatable out of the Royals stars. He isn’t the happy go lucky guy like Salvy. He isn’t an incredible athlete like Cain. He isn’t a hunk like Hosmer. And he isn’t a local Midwest boy like Gordon. Moose is just…Moose, and I know I appreciated him for his no-nonsense, laid back personality.
And he was a Cali guy who embraced Kansas City, much like me. Maybe that’s another reason why I like him so much.
Anyways, Moose will be missed, both on and off the field. At least he will be back in the lineup with another former Royal in Cain. True Royals fans will appreciate seeing something familiar in October should the Brewers hold on and make the playoffs.
17 thoughts on “What did the Royals gain (and lose) in the Mike Moustakas trade?”
[…] see Moose return to Kansas City. Moose is coming off a stellar full season in Milwaukee, as he was traded to the Brewers in the summer of 2018 for outfielder Brett Phillips and pitcher Jorge Lopez. In 584 plate appearances with the Brewers, […]
[…] for the Royals in more ways than one. First, he solidified the third-base position in the wake of Mike Moustakas leaving, as he played a majority of his innings at third base when he was healthy. Second, Dozier exploded […]
[…] of the two prospects acquired in the Mike Moustakas deal (the other being outfielder Brett Phillips), Lopez has been a polarizing figure in the Kansas City rotation. Lopez has solid stuff overall, and […]
[…] While Phillips most likely would start the year off the bench, if he can turn some of those long flyballs to home runs thanks to the dry, hitter-friendly conditions, then it’s possible he could earn more of a platoon role the longer baseball is played in Arizona. And thus, that could help convince Royals fans that the Royals actually did okay in the Mike Moustakas deal with the Brewers back in 2018. […]
[…] on the Royals’ 40-man roster. Phillips, acquired from Milwaukee along with Jorge Lopez in the Mike Moustakas trade in 2018, has already been a small fan favorite in Kansas City, mostly due to his infectious laugh, as seen […]
[…] failed to impress at the plate since being acquired from Milwaukee (along with pitcher Jorge Lopez) in the Mike Moustakas trade in 2018. As a Royal he has put up a 47 OPS+ in 202 plate appearances between 2018 and 2019. Safe to say, […]
[…] on the San Francisco Giants, and writing about Jorge Lopez before the Royals acquired him in the Mike Moustakas trade. Even though Royals baseball remains my primary passion and commitment, I have a soft spot for […]
[…] say that the rebuilding process took root at the start of 2018, but it did not feel real until Mike Moustakas was traded and Alcides Escobar was finally benched in favor of Adalberto Mondesi, which didn’t occur […]
[…] It’s unlikely that Phillips won’t make the Royals Opening Day 30-man roster on Friday against the Indians. However, with Starling and Cordero’s stock higher at this time, it would not be surprising to see the Royals make another trade soon, with this one involving the outfielder who was a key piece in the Mike Moustakas trade in 2018. […]
[…] light up the world with his glove. As for Phillips, he was traded (along with pitcher Jorge Lopez) from Milwaukee for fan favorite Mike Moustakas during the middle of the 2018 season. While it was expected that the Royals were going to trade Moose in 2018, Royals fans have been […]
[…] and he failed to do much either in any kind of relief role either. Thus, it’s a shame that a key cog from the Mike Moustakas deal in 2018 failed to produce much when he came over from […]
[…] But in addition to the great “what if” of “would Phillips have succeeded had he been given more of a shot to start”, the trade of Phillips also officially closes the door on the trade Moore made with the Milwaukee Brewers for Mike Moustakas near the trade deadline of 2018. […]
[…] that Brian Goodwin and Brett Phillips went down during the 2018 to 2020 seasons. Both Goodwin and Phillips were acquired in major mid-season trades, and even though their tenures in Kansas City started off […]
[…] Royals haven’t shied away from trading players at the deadline in the past few seasons, as Mike Moustakas was traded for what seemed like a decent haul (Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez) as was Kelvin Herrera (Kelvin […]
[…] Royals have had some trouble finding a third-baseman since Mike Moustakas was traded away to Milwaukee during the 2018 se… In many ways, the third base position in Kansas City has been a revolving door, as Dayton Moore has […]
[…] makes sense after Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain left via Free Agency prior to 2018, in addition to Mike Moustakas and Kelvin Herrera being traded away in 2018 (after signing and playing […]
[…] come over in trades. Jorge Lopez is a prime example of this, who failed to do much in Kansas City after coming over in the Mike Moustakas trade in 2018 (though Lopez ended up being an All-Star with Baltimore this […]