One week ago Royals manager Ned Yost said he was sticking with third baseman Mike Moutakas despite a ghastly .147 batting average. Today the Royals demoted Moustakas to Triple-A.
In between then and now Moustakas went 3-for-16 (.188) with two doubles in six games, which apparently convinced the Royals they’ve seen enough struggles from the 25-year-old former top prospect and No. 2 overall pick.
Moustakas has certainly earned the demotion. In addition to this year’s struggles he’s hit just .236 with a .669 OPS in 414 career games, posting an ugly 284/105 K/BB ratio while showing zero signs of improvement. It’s just noteworthy that Yost came out so strongly in favor of sticking with Moustakas only to see the team demote him exactly one week later.
Last time Moustakas was at Triple-A he was a 22-year-old top prospect in 2011 and he hit .287 with an .845 OPS in 55 games before the Royals called him up. However, even then his 44/19 K/BB ratio was a red flag.
And now the Royals’ primary third baseman is 29-year-old journeyman Danny Valencia.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.