Mike Moustakas looked like an imperfect fit for the Milwaukee Brewers when he was acquired from the Kansas City Royals for Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez in advance of the July non-waiver trade deadline. But the addition of Moustakas, and the near seamless transition that incumbent third baseman Travis Shaw has made to the keystone, has proven to be a boon for the Brewers down the stretch and into the postseason.
In 54 regular season games after joining Milwaukee, Moustakas produced a solid .256/.326/.441 slash (103 wRC+) with 8 home runs while providing his typically steady defense at the hot corner. He then went on to record four hits and two walks in 13 plate appearances during the Brewers’ three-game sweep of the Rockies in the NLDS, including the walk-off RBI single off Adam Ottavino in the 10th inning of game one. ‘Moose’ will look to continue to play an integral role for the Brewers this postseason, and perhaps even further into the future.
Moustakas had a difficult time during his first run through free agency last offseason, sitting out on the market deep into the winter before eventually returning to Kansas City on a one-year deal with a mutual option. With another opportunity to hit the open market looming this offseason, Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reports that Moustakas may be interested in suiting up for the Menomonee Valley Nine once again next year:
He could see himself coming back for more, too. His free agency last winter didn’t turn out as expected, but it’s all worked out, first in Kansas City, and now here. That’s thanks to his attitude. He’d have a positive attitude about staying for more, too, and said so when asked.
“I like it here,” Moustakas said. “The team is together. The coaching staff is together. The training staff is together. We have a good time here every single day.”
Moustakas does have a $15 mil mutual option (with a $1 mil buyout) which he could exercise after the season in an effort to remain in Milwaukee. It’s rare, though, to see both sides of a mutual option get exercised, and Moustakas would be one of the top third baseman available should he wind up hitting the open market. Josh Donaldson is coming off a down, injury-plagued season and Adrian Beltre would play next season at age 40. Moustakas is also a younger option at the hot corner than Jed Lowrie or Asdrubal Cabrera, and he wouldn’t be weighed down with a Qualifying Offer this time around. Only Manny Machado is clearly superior to Moose as far as available third baseman go, and he may be more interested in finding a team that will play him at shortstop.
It is questionable just how well Moustakas fits into the mix with Milwaukee going forward, as well. All of Jesus Aguilar, Eric Thames, Travis Shaw, Jonathan Schoop, and Hernan Perez are under club control for next season at lesser prices than what Moustakas would make on his current deal. Top prospect Keston Hiura is also rapidly rising through the minors; he could be ready to throw his name into the hat sometime next summer and possibly take over at second base. Unless there are a other infielders on the move, it would probably make more sense financially and from a roster-building standpoint to keep Shaw (who is both a superior hitter and defender to Moustakas) as the regular third baseman while keeping second base open for Hiura’s eventual arrival.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out during what figures to be another active offseason for the Milwaukee Brewers. For now, though, we can push these concerns to the back of our minds while the team prepares to face the Dodgers in the NLCS.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs