Entering the offseason, Mike Moustakas ranked as the no. 12 free agent on the market according to BP. While the third baseman didn’t return to the peak 4.6 WARP and .291 TAv of his breakout performance in 2015, he still looked like a legitimate contender after working his way back from an injury-laden 2016 with another All-Star nomination and franchise-best 38 home runs. It’s already February, however, and no one appears to be champing at the bit to sign the 29-year-old.
The Mets were thought to be in on Moustakas back in early January, but ultimately decided to sign fellow free agent third baseman Todd Frazier to a two-year, $17 million deal on Monday evening. The Royals and Cardinals have been similarly disinterested in the veteran infielder, as the Royals are focused on re-signing Eric Hosmer and the Cardinals are already set at the hot corner with Matt Carpenter and Jedd Gyorko, among several other options.
One possible fit for Moustakas? The Yankees, who were rumored to have discussed the third baseman over the last week. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports doesn’t see a deal in Moustakas’ future, however, as the club is still seeking a viable starting pitcher and might not want to max out their payroll in advance of the 2018 season.
Utility infielder Ryan Flaherty is officially on the Orioles’ radar this offseason, though a deal doesn’t appear to be imminent. Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com notes that the club is seeking an infielder who can play a convincing backup to Manny Machado at shortstop, and while Flaherty is as versatile as they come, he’s still working his way back from a severe bout of right shoulder tendonitis.
Other infield alternatives include Luis Sardinas, Erick Salcedo, Ruben Tejada, Engelb Vielma, and Garabez Rosa. None of the others are quite as versatile as Flaherty, who can cover the infield, outfield, and backstop with varying degrees of proficiency, but none are quite as hopeless at the plate, either. In 23 games with the Orioles last year, Flaherty slashed an underwhelming .211/.302/.237 with just one extra-base hit in 43 plate appearances.
Phil Coke is ready to return to the major leagues, and this time, he’s putting an interesting spin (or rather, lack of spin) on things: The 35-year-old southpaw wants to reinvent himself as a knuckleballer. That’s the report from SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo, anyway, who says the lefty has been throwing bullpens for interested teams this winter.
Exactly who might be interested in the veteran reliever is difficult to imagine. Coke is coming off of an unsuccessful stint with the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball, in a season where he eked out a 4.56 ERA and just 16 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. His major-league résumé is no more encouraging: Coke flamed out in just 10 innings for the Yankees and Pirates in 2016, and hasn’t been worth more than 0.5 WARP in any season since 2010.
That said, he’s not a total lost cause, as evidenced by the 4.23 DRA and 94 cFIP he managed during a 70-inning gig in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre several years ago. Whether he can use a newly-developed knuckleball to build on his limited success has yet to be seen.
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