It came as little surprise earlier this week when Mike Moustakas declined his mutual option with the Milwaukee Brewers in order to become a free agent. But Moose and the organization have clearly forged a strong relationship over the past year and a half, and the team is reportedly going to explore bringing him back again for 2020 (and potentially beyond).
Brewers hope to retain Mike Moustakas. He should have a better market this time.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 3, 2019
The left-handed batter put together another typical Moose-like season in 2019, hitting .254/.329/.516 in 584 plate appearances. Hit batting average was within two points of his career total, while his OBP and slugging percentages were both the second-highest totals that he has ever posted. Moustakas’ 35 home runs was also his second-highest ever total, as well as his 87 runs batted in. All together it added up to a 113 wRC+, which happens to be the exact number that he has averaged for the last five seasons since the start of 2015.
Moustakas rates right around average on defense at third base according to both Defensive Runs Saved (0) and UZR (0.2). This past year he added second base to his toolshed, playing capably enough at the keystone in 40 starts (0 DRS, -0.1 UZR).
The added positional versatility may help boost Moustakas’ value on the open market a bit, but he’s still largely the same player he was the first time he hit the free agent market after the 2017 season, except now he’s heading into his age-31 season. His primary position at the hot corner is also relatively deep in terms of available free agents, featuring Josh Donaldson, Anthony Rendon, Asdrubal Cabrera, Todd Frazier, and Wilmer Flores among other alternatives.
Moustakas is a good — but not great — veteran hitter, and the market has seemingly had a blind spot for these types of players over the last few seasons. Perhaps this is finally the year that Moustakas receives a multiyear pact, but it is perhaps difficult to imagine him getting much more than $10-$12 mil in terms of AAV. In other words, it is unlikely that the Brewers would have to spend much (if any) more than they did on Moustakas in 2019 if they hope to keep him around for 2020 and beyond.
With Moustakas now on the open market, Travis Shaw sits atop the third base depth chart for the Cream City Nine. But he’s no sure thing as the former 30+ home run hitter is hoping for a bounce back after his putrid .157/.281/.270 output in 86 games this past season. Beyond that, Tyler Saladino, Lucas Erceg, Weston Wilson, and Jake Gatewood make up the rest of the organization’s upper level depth at the hot corner.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs