Why the Reds must eat the remaining $22M on Mike Moustakas' contract

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Mike Moustakas (9).
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Mike Moustakas (9). / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds made the decision this past spring to move on from Shogo Akiyama. After two seasons, it became apparent to the Reds front office that Akiyama wasn't the player they thought he was going be after inking the former Japanese star to a three-year/$21M contract prior to the 2020 season.

That decision cost Cincinnati $8M. The front office faces a very similar decision this offseason, but this one will be about three-times more expensive.

Mike Moustakas is owed $18M next season. It's the final year of the four-year/$64M contract that Moose signed in December of 2019. In addition to the $18M salary, Moustakas's contract also includes a $20M team-option for the 2024 season with a $4M buyout.

Why the Reds will have to eat the remaining $22M on Mike Moustakas' contract.

Since arriving in Cincinnati, Moustakas has hit .216/.300/.383 with 21 home runs. Moose's three years in the Queen City have netted -1.8 bWAR and an OPS+ of just 80. In short, Moustakas has performed nowhere near the All-Star level that was expected when he inked the largest free agent deal in Reds history.

In all honesty, however, the decision to move on from Mike Moustakas has less to do with money and more to do with the allocation of playing. Of course, that's easy for me to say, it's not my money.

Moustakas has been a step slow since arriving in Cincinnati and he's little more than a designated hitter at this stage of his career. However, if next season is, as Nick Krall says, about developing young talent, then Moose has no business taking at-bats away from players like Spencer Steer, Alejo Lopez, Nick Senzel, or even Jose Barrero.

It may no longer even be the matter of if the Cincinnati Reds and Mike Moustakas part ways, but when. The Chicao Cubs have already announced their intent to release Jason Heyward despite the fact he has one year and $22M remaining the eight-year contract he signed in 2016.

The Cubs made the decision to allow Heyward the chance to find a new team during the offseason, and it's time for the Reds to afford Moustakas the same courtesy. Things did not work out between the two sides, but it's time to move on.

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