Milwaukee Brewers

How Mike Moustakas bet on himself and lost in MLB’s depressed free agent market

Ever since denying a hefty qualifying offer following the 2017 season, Mike Moustakas hasn’t been able to find nearly the same value on the market.

Mike Moustakas could have regrets about declining the Royals qualifying offer in 2017 because he cost himself a ton of money by betting on himself.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Moustakas has agreed to terms on a deal to return to the Milwaukee Brewers on a one-year contract.

Moustakas’ one-year deal is reported to be worth $10 million, a figure that stands significantly lower than what the former Royal had a chance to make just two offseasons ago.

After a stellar 2017 campaign with the Royals that saw Moustakas mash a franchise-record 38 homers and make the AL All-Star team, Kansas City gave the slugging third basemen a qualifying offer worth $17.4 million.

Moustakas rejected the offer, as he and agent Scott Boras felt he’d be better suited to test the open market. It was assumed that a 38-homer guy coming off a Comeback Player of the Year season could land a multi-year deal similar in average annual value to the qualifying offer.

Such an offer never materialized, and Moustakas wound up returning to Kansas City on a $6.5 million deal worth up to $8.7 million including incentives.

Now, after a 2018 season that saw him take a step back at the plate, Moustakas still sought a multi-year deal this offseason. But in a dried-up marketplace with many teams reluctant to commit dollars to long-term contracts, no suitors presented themselves.

That leaves Moustakas where he is today, signing a one-year deal for barely half of what he declined in November of 2017.

Moustakas may have been better suited to wait until mega-star Manny Machado found a home. There are still a handful of teams reserving a part of the left side of their infield in hopes of landing Machado. Once he signs, the losers of the Machado sweepstakes would likely be more than happy to snag Moustakas on a multi-year deal as a consolation prize.

That being said, however, it is mid-February and players want to have a home. Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training last week and all position players will have reported by this Wednesday.

As Rosenthal explained, Moustakas’ combined earnings in 2018 and 2019 will rival what he had a chance to make in 2018 alone. But, hey, hindsight is 20/20, right?

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