Report: Royals, Moustakas agree to short-term deal

Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas celebrates his solo home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

(WIBW) - The Moose could return to Kansas City after all.

Yahoo Sports reported Thursday night that Mike Moustakas and the Royals reached agreement on a one-year deal with a mutual second-year option. According to Yahoo Sports, the deal guarantees Moustakas $6.5 million and can max out at $22.7 million.

MLB.com's Jeffrey Flanagan had earlier reported the short-term agreement was in the works.

The Royals have not confirmed the developments.

Moustakas set a franchise record with 38 home runs in the 2017 season, with a career-high .835 OPS. The 29-year-old third baseman has been with the Royals for seven seasons, including their 2015 World Series title.

Moustakas, a two-time All Star, became a free agent after the 2017 season, along with Eric Hosmer and outfielder Lorenzo Cain. Hosmer has since signed with the Padres, while Cain headed to the Milwaukee Brewers.

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The mutual option is, for all intents and purposes, a way for the Royals to push some money (the $1 million buyout, specifically) onto the club's 2019 payroll. It is extremely rare for both sides of a mutual option to be exercised. One side typically walks away for whatever reason.

Moustakas was undoubtedly hoping for a large payday this offseason after setting a Royals franchise record with 38 home runs in 2017. He hit .272/.314/.521 (116 OPS+) overall. Moustakas, like many other free agents, got caught up in a slower-than-expected offseason. A one-year deal with a $6.5 million guarantee has to be a bitter pill to swallow.

A one-year contract allows Moustakas to give free agency another shot next winter, when he wouldn't be attached to draft pick compensation -- Moustakas rejected the qualifying offer this offseason and is thus ineligible to receive one in the future -- and teams may be more willing to spend. It's certainly better than remaining unemployed.

As for the Royals, the argument can be made re-signing Moustakas is not in their best interests. They're rebuilding and anything that helps them win games hurts their draft position. Then again, trading Moustakas to a contender at the July 31 deadline could more than compensate for any loss in draft position.

Infielder Cheslor Cuthbert, who had been slated to play third base before the Moustakas deal, will presumably move into a super utility role and get regular at-bats while playing all around the infield.