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Heyman | Yankees keeping in touch with long-shot Moustakas

Jon Heyman

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Jul 1, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) cheers after hitting a home run in the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas and the Yankees have been in occasional contact in recent days, though Yankees people suggest the signing of any star remains unlikely at this moment due to concerns over the luxury-tax threshold and potential loss of a draft pick.

Moustakas would enhance and balance what’s arguably baseball’s most dangerous and dynamic lineup (the Astros and Nats have a case there, too), but people close to the team continue to suggest a Moustakas signing remains a “long shot.”

While Moustakas would give them another big left-handed hitter along with Greg Bird and Didi Gregorius to go with right-handed slugging stars Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, the Yankees seem more focused on pitching options that would be less expensive and more easily fit into their budget at the moment.

They have been talking to teams about trades, though the likelihood of a deal with the intra-division rival Rays, the team with the most/best pitchers for trade (Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi) seem remote.

Yankees people do like Moustakas, and they could surely see big production with their short porch in right field (Moustakas set a Royals record with 38 home runs playing home games in pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium), but they do seem to be spending more time on rotation help, at least at the moment. Speaking about the seemingly small Moustakas chances, one Yankees-connected person said, “It has nothing to do with the player, it’s the money.”

If they can work it out, the Yankees would be interested in a short-term deal. Everything points to the Yankees wanting to do only short-term deals with a third baseman; they are staying below the threshold for a presumed run at superstar shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado, a star of next year’s mega free agent market. The Yankees would have been willing to sign their own Todd Frazier on a one-year deal, though Frazier wound up going crosstown to the Mets on a two-year deal.

The third base market has been rough for a couple years. Even Justin Turner, a major star, only had the Dodgers’ offer last year when he signed back with Los Angeles for $64 million over four years, Turner himself has said.

The Yankees have considered free agent pitcher Alex Cobb, as well, but for the moment are looking at potential trades that could more easily fit into their budget. The Yankees are said to be between $16 million and $22 million under the luxury-tax threshold of $197 million at present, with interest in keeping some extra money for possible trade-deadline deals.

That would seem to inhibit the chances for Moustakas, Cobb or anyone seeking $15 million-plus annually unless they are able to deal a high-priced veteran such as Jacoby Ellsbury, who makes $22 million a year. As reported by FanRag Sports, the Yankees are thought to be willing to pay about half of Ellsbury’s salary if they can find a taker. Ellsbury also has a full no-trade clause, complicating matters, and he’s shown little interest in going elsewhere (unless it’s the Giants) to this point.

If something can be cleared up in that regard, the chances for a Moustakas deal might be enhanced.

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Jon Heyman is an MLB Insider for FanRag Sports, featuring breaking news, information and his Inside Baseball column, which appears on FanRagSports.com every Thursday. Heyman also has been an insider at MLB Network since the channel launched in 2009 and is a regular contributor to WFAN in New York, where he appears weekly on the Joe and Evan Show and previously appeared on the Mike and the Mad Dog Show. He also appears on WSCR in Chicago, WBZ-FM in Boston and the Petros and Money Show on Fox in Los Angeles. Heyman comes to FanRag Sports from CBSSports.com, where he worked for five years and wrote the popular Inside Baseball notes column. Before going to CBS, Heyman worked for five years at Sports Illustrated and SI.com, where he was a senior writer and started an Inside Baseball Column. Heyman worked for 16 years at Newsday in New York, where he was the Yankees beat writer, a baseball columnist and finally a general sports columnist. Heyman started his career at the Moline (Ill.) Daily Dispatch, then moved to the Los Angeles Copley Newspapers (Torrance Daily Breeze and Santa Monica Outlook) before going to Newsday. Heyman at one time also served as a national baseball writer for The Sporting News. Heyman is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. The Santa Fe, N.M. native grew up in Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Long Island.

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