The Colorado Rockies have signed veteran Mike Moustakas to a minor league contract and given him a non-roster invite to Spring Training.


The club has made it clear through actions and words this offseason and into camp that they had every intention of rolling forward primarily with young internal candidates, letting the “kids” play, and making this season mostly about learning.

So, why bring in a 34-year-old corner guy with limited defensive utility who hasn’t been anywhere close to league average with the bat for two years?

Initially, thanks to some odd national reporting, there seemed to be some thought that Moustakas would slide right into the starting second base job, replacing the injured Brendan Rodgers.

This was quickly corrected by local reporters Thomas Harding of and Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post who shared that the team sees “Moose” as a depth option at 3B, 1B, and DH.

When on the loose and in his prime, Moustakas was quite the ballplayer from 2015-2020. He was consistently well above the league average at the plate and could be counted on for at least 20 home runs a season, peaking with 38 dingers in 2017 and 35 in 2019. But each of the last two years his OPS+ has plummeted to 68 and 74 respectively, putting him among the worst hitters getting regular at-bats.

Before this signing, it looked like Colorado was doing exactly what it should in the absence of Rodgers, moving McMahon over to 2B and giving as many at-bats as possible to Elehuris Montero and Nolan Jones, both of whom fit nicely over at third.

There was really nothing wrong with this plan and given plenty of other areas of need, it is indeed a bit strange that the Rockies decided they needed another piece of competition here.

If Moustakas ends up taking away precious opportunities from these players, this is the rare instance where a totally low-risk, NRI move actually hurts the team. Even if he has a bit of a renaissance, he is unlikely to factor into this team’s future and so whatever good feelings come from good play would be short-lived.

A scenario could arise where he has a strong first-half resurgence inspired a bit by Coors Field, reminds everyone why he was a three-time All-Star, and then the club flips him at the deadline for a prospect who will be a part of their future. But that’s hoping for a lot.

But doing a little roster math, there is one scenario under which this acquisition can actually help the young players rather than hurt or block them.

Montero and Jones both need every day at-bats at this point in their career and there isn’t a way to make sure that both get them. As frustrating as it will feel, one needs to be sent to Triple-A not because they aren’t ready for MLB but because they need the reps. 

Moustakas can (and should) essentially fill out the roster (if he is healthy and decent in camp and even makes the team) as the 26th man who can step in as a veteran lefty bat off the bench. Whoever of Montero or Jones wins the job this spring can still get their chances and the other will get more opportunities down in Albuquerque than sitting on the bench in Denver.

As long as he isn’t seen as a starter or a regular, Moustakas, whether he is inspiring competition or providing an experienced helping hand, could actually end up putting both of the players he appears to be blocking into the best position for themselves.

If, however, he is in the lineup on Opening Day over at third base and ends up getting a few hundred plate appearances in 2023, then the Rockies have committed an egregious unforced error.