After he impressed last year in a three-month cameo in Milwaukee, two-time All-Star third baseman Mike Moustakas has reached an agreement to return to the Brewers on a one-year deal that is believed to be worth around $9 million, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported on Sunday afternoon:
Free-agent Mike Moustakas in agreement with #Brewers on a one-year contract, pending a physical, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 17, 2019
Mike Moustakas deal not yet official with #Brewers. It will pay him $10 million for 2019 when finalized— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 17, 2019
Moustakas continues to be punished financially for his decision to reject the Royals’ one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer in the fall of 2017. Assuming Nightengale’s report of a $10 million salary for this year is accurate, that means he’ll end up making less in 2018-19 combined than he would have earned alone last year by accepting the QO (he later ended up re-signing with the Royals for $6.5 million in March of 2018).
Moustakas, a 2015 World Series champion who had spent his entire career in Kansas City until last July’s trade, appears to be paying the price for his age (30), relatively average defensive ability (0.4 dWAR, two defensive runs saved in 2018), slightly below-average on-base skills (.307 career OBP, .315 in 2018), and the fact that he plays a position at which most contending teams are already covered. With that said, he’s a very good power hitter who has hit at least 20 homers in each of his last three full seasons, including a career-high 38 while playing his home games at cavernous Kauffman Stadium, and his performance in 2018 (.251/.315/.459 slash line with 28 homers and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances) was more than fine.
Just like it was down the stretch last year, Moustakas’ presence in Milwaukee creates somewhat of an awkward puzzle in the infield for manager Craig Counsell. Despite the fact that he had literally no experience at the position, incumbent third baseman Travis Shaw expressed a willingness to move to second base following the acquisition of Moustakas last summer, and even though he’s very oversized for the position at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, he didn’t look out of place there over 39 regular-season games and in the playoffs. With that said, it’s difficult to see Shaw being a straight-up starter at that spot and playing 150-ish games there in 2019; Counsell will likely have to find some playing time for him at third and/or first base while giving Moustakas and Jesus Aguilar more off days than your typical starting position players. When Shaw moves to a corner or sits, Milwaukee’s other options at second include Corey Spangenberg and Hernan Perez (and perhaps top prospect Keston Hiura as the season progresses).