30-year-old free-agent third baseman Mike Moustakas, or “Moose” as his teammates and baseball aficionados often prefer to call him, is returning to the Milwaukee Brewers on a one-year $10 million deal, with a mutual option in place for a second year. As first reported by Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, and later confirmed by ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Sunday, the deal is all but finalized, pending a physical (as is typical for most free agent contracts).
Moustakas spent the first half of the 2018 season as a Kansas City Royal, before being traded to the Brewers on July 27, 2018. The left-handing slugger batted .251 with 28 homers and 95 RBIs in 152 games last year and was instrumental in the Brewers’ NL Central victory and postseason success. In the Brewers’ first postseason berth since 2011, Moustakas brought the club veteran leadership with extensive postseason experience, having won the World Series with Kansas City in 2015, and an impressive .364 batting average (with 2 RBIs) in the team’s three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the 2018 NLDS. While Moustakas offseason success stalled in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he struck out 12 times in 31 at bats, this move appears to express Milwaukee’s confidence in Moustakas’ offensive production potential and adds yet another powerful left-handed hitter to a roster comprised of 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich, Travis Shaw, and Yasmani Grandal.
This sentiment has been echoed by Brewers’ center fielder Lorenzo Cain, stating “He’s going to bring leadership and toughness to this team. He has all of that and we know what he can do on the field.” Cain is not the only Brewer outwardly excited about the recent acquisition; Christian Yelich tweeted a GIF of a leaping Moose, and Ryan Braun, a lifelong friend of Moustakas, was quoted as saying “he came here last year, fit in seamlessly, performed for us really well on the field [and] became a big part of our culture in the locker room, as well”.
Ultimately for the Brewers, Moustakas brings above average defense and reliable left-handed power. However, early reports indicate Moustakas may be filling an unfamiliar position this season. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was the first to report (via Twitter) that the Brewers are planning to use Spring Training to assess Moustakas’ ability to play second base, rather than third base, where he has played his entire career. Should the team find Moustakas a suitable fit at second, Travis Shaw (who moved to second base when the Brewers acquired Moustakas in July) would return to his position at third base. This would be a best of both worlds scenario for the Brewers, as Shaw is an exceptionally talented hot-corner defender, recording 22 Defensive Runs Saved and a +3.5 Ultimate Zone Rating over the course of the last couple seasons.
With their sights set on a return to the NLCS (and potentially a World Series), the Moustakas signing seems to place the Brew Crew back in position for another exciting season.