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Report: Mike Moustakas returns to Milwaukee Brewers on one-year deal

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An offseason of speculation becomes reality after the All-Star’s free agent market again fails to develop

Divisional Round - Colorado Rockies v Milwaukee Brewers - Game Two Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Returning to the Milwaukee Brewers always seemed like the fallback option for Mike Moustakas, even getting to the point last week where Ken Rosenthal was saying a reunion seemed to be “inevitable.”

Rosenthal has had his finger on the (once again faint) pulse of the Moustakas free agent market for much of the winter, so it makes sense that he’s the one to break the news — Moustakas is returning to the Brewers on a one-year deal. ESPN’s Jeff Passan has the contract details, saying the deal is worth somewhere close to $9 million.

Moustakas earned $5.5 million last year after declining the Royals’ qualifying offer of $17.5 million when his hopes for a multi-year deal at that level were dashed. That deal had a $15 million mutual option for 2019 that Moustakas turned down in order to take another crack at free agency, likely figuring he’d cash in once Manny Machado signed and he was the next-best option.

(Before too many people criticize Moustakas for not taking the $15 million option with the Brewers, it’s important to remember it was highly unlikely the Brewers would have taken him back at that price and likely would have declined their half of the mutual option.)

Unfortunately for Moustakas, Machado is still unsigned, and with Spring Training report dates for position players coming up next week, it looks like Moose once again just wanted to get into camp. He’ll return to a Brewers squad for whom .256/.326/.441 in 54 games, including 8 home runs and 12 doubles.

He also hit well in the NLDS, going 4-for-11 with a double, 2 RBI and 2 walks in 3 games against the Rockies before being stifled by the Dodgers’ barrage of left-handed pitchers in the NLCS. Moustakas went 4-for-29 in those 7 games, striking out 12 times.

The question, of course, now becomes what the heck the Brewers do with Travis Shaw, who played better than expected in his limited time at second base last year, but would still likely face questions about his defense there over a full season. There’s also Keston Hiura, who everyone likely assumed would be with the big league team by sometime in May. That seems unlikely to happen now, at least until we see how the at-bats play out between Moustakas and Shaw. And with Moustakas adding another left-handed bat (and $9 million to the payroll), what does that mean for Eric Thames (and his $7 million salary) and his chances of being on the Opening Day roster?

Those are all things that may be sorted out in the coming weeks, but David Stearns has never been shy to add talent and figure out where they’re going to play later — just like we saw with the initial addition of Moustakas last July.

UPDATE:

Heyman and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand both say the deal will be for $10 million this year and include another mutual option.

No word yet on how much the mutual option for next season would be worth.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference