3 'bad contract' swaps for Reds infielder Mike Moustakas

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Mike Moustakas.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Mike Moustakas. / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
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Mike Moustakas has become the elephant in the room for the Cincinnati Reds this offseason. With the club embracing a full-on rebuild, Moose's presence on the roster is hinderance to the development of the young players.

The problem is his gargantuan salary in 2023. The Redlegs signed Moustakas to a four-year/$64M contract in 2019. As he enters what will be his final year of that deal, the Reds are on the hook for $18M in 2023 and $4M in order to buy out his team-option for 2024. That's a whooping $22M.

Cincinnati has a few options if they wish to move on from Moustakas. Release him and absorb the $22M hit, trade him along with some top prospects (similar to the Homer Bailey trade in 2018), or swap Moose's 'bad contract' for another. Which three teams could the Reds swap contracts with and what would Cincinnati be receiving in return?

1. Reds could swap Mike Moustakas for Royals' Hunter Dozier.

Let's start out with the positive, shall we? How nice would it be to see Mike Moustakas return to his old stomping grounds in Kansas City? While his production in Cincinnati has made him a pariah among Reds fans, Moustakas is still beloved by the Royals fanbase.

Moose's best years were in KC where he helped lead the franchise to a World Series Championship in 2015. The slugger then took his act to Milwaukee, and produced an All-Star appearance in 2019 before inking a four-year with Cincinnati.

Now what would the Reds receive in return? Quite frankly, not much. Hunter Dozier, who can play both corner infield and outfield spots, has not lived up to the four-year/$25M contract he signed prior to the 2021 season.

Coming off a successful two-year stretch after the 2020 season, Dozier agreed to a contract extension that probably left most of the Kansas City fanbase scratching their heads. Since agreeing to that extension, Dozier has hit just .226/.289/.391.

Here's the hangup with Dozier's deal - it'll go an extra year. Dozier is owed less than Moustakas ($16.25M) over the life of the deal, but his contract contains $9M guaranteed in 2024. Trading Moustakas to Kansas City would lessen the overall financial impact, but Cincinnati would have to hang on to Dozier for an extra year.