Mike Moustakas, the Royals’ two-time All-Star, is part of a crowded group of third basemen on baseball’s midseason trade market.Multiple teams are interested in Moustakas as a first baseman, sources told MLB.com Thursday, and the Yankees are among the clubs that have considered trading for Moustakas and moving him across the diamond.The Royals expect to deal Moustakas before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, one source said. The Cardinals and Phillies are among the teams with interest in Moustakas as a third baseman, sources have confirmed via prior reporting by Ken Rosenthal and Jim Salisbury.The Yankees’ overall priority remains acquiring a starting pitcher, but the team also has explored infield upgrades in recent weeks — even before the injury to American League Rookie of the Year favorite Gleyber Torres.Without Torres, the right side of the Yankees’ infield is likely to feature Neil Walker at second base and Greg Bird at first against right-handed starters. Walker has a .527 OPS this season. Bird’s is .725, and the Yankees’ overall OPS at first base — .657 — ranks 29th among 30 Major League teams.Moustakas, 29, has played more than 900 games in the Majors but started only twice at first base; both instances came earlier this year. Moustakas has not played since Monday due to back spasms; he has a .784 OPS with 16 home runs in 82 games this season.Moustakas signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal prior to this season, meaning the Yankees could acquire his entire contract and likely still have room under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold to add J.A. Happ or a similarly priced starter.As the Yankees remain mindful of keeping their payroll below $197 million, the team could consider creative trades that limit the amount of salary added. For example: When a player’s contract is traded in full, that counts as a credit against the team’s luxury tax liability. As such, the Yankees could include Walker’s one-year, $4 million in a trade offer — at which point the other team in the transaction likely would insist on a higher-ranked prospect in exchange for assuming the added payroll.
Garrett Richards, SP, Angels
Much like the Rockies, the Angels thought they’d be in better shape than they are. They have Mike Troutand Andrelton Simmons, they watched Shohei Ohtani live up to every expectation and they thought they’d filled some holes by importing Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart.It hasn’t happened, in large part due to an endless stream of injuries, as well as Kinsler and Kole Calhouncompletely forgetting how to hit. The problem for the Halos is that they’re kind of stuck; they can’t rebuild with Trout, Ohtani and Simmons around, but they also don’t have very many tradeable assets anyway.The one exception to that, for teams willing to take a risk, might be Richards. It’s true he’s consistently dealt with injuries, but when he’s been available, he’s been outstanding. (Since 2014, he’s pitched 512 innings, with a 3.11 ERA.) Richards still has elite starter fastball velocity, at 95.8 mph, and he still has elite spin both on his fastball and his curveball.It’s true you can’t really count on Richards to stay healthy for any length of time; he actually just spent more time on the disabled list, though that was a hamstring issue, not an arm issue. (He returned on Wednesday to strike out eight Mariners in 5 1/3 innings.) But you may not need to, either. For Richards’ talent, you take the gamble of getting only a few good starts — especially if one of those comes in the playoffs.
Possible fits: Brewers, Mariners, Yankees, Red Sox, Braves; anyone other than the Astros or Indians.
DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Rockies
Speaking of Colorado, LeMahieu is highly regarded in Denver, but his smashing 2016 increasingly looks like an outlier year unlike any he had before or since. This year, working around missed time due to a thumb injury, he’s had something of an odd year, slugging far better on the road, .512 to .375. Teams won’t be fooled by that, however, since over his career, LeMahieu has had large home-field advantages in OBP (68 points) and slugging (79 points).Still, a good defender who is above average at making contact is a useful player, and there are a few contenders who have had serious trouble filling second base. It’s not hard at all to see the Red Sox looking at LeMahieu as an upgrade over Eduardo Nunez, since Dustin Pedroia can’t be relied upon, or the Brewers moving on from Jonathan Villar‘s second straight disappointing season.Given the struggles of Jason Kipnis, there’s actually a great case to make for the Indians to try to get both LeMahieu and Ottavino.
Possible fits: Brewers, Indians, Dodgers, Red Sox, D-backs