The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Mike Moustakas from the Royals near the end of July. Since then, he’s been a tremendous addition with not only his on-field production but his postseason experience and clubhouse presence.
After the July 21st trade deadline came and passed, the plan for the Milwaukee Brewers seemed obvious. Jonathan Schoop had an extra year of control and Moustakas had a $15 million mutual option that seemed like an easy decline for the front office.
The Brewers still had Travis Shaw and would likely move him back to third base with Schoop taking over second base in 2019. It seemed too easy.
In recent comments, Moustakas stated how much he loved it here in Milwaukee and could see himself returning. But it’s a mutual option for next season, and the Brewers need to feel the same way.
It’s difficult to imagine GM David Stearns going into next season with the same roster construction as the second half of this season. That infield has way too many names to be sitting on the bench on a regular basis.
Mike Moustakas has taken to his new home in Milwaukee well. Since joining the Crew, Moose has a .256/.326/.441 slash line with eight home runs, including his walk-off single in Game 1 of the NLDS. Jonathan Schoop meanwhile, has not played well. In the final two months of the regular season, Schoop hit an abysmal .202/.246/.331 with a strikeout rate north of 30%. He’s never seemed comfortable in a Brewers uniform.
There were rumblings back in August that the Milwaukee Brewers might trade or non-tender Schoop this winter. Doing so would clear room for both Moustakas and Shaw on the roster.
Travis Shaw has turned himself into a serviceable second baseman. He’s only made one error since the move over to the keystone and has made some great plays. Shaw has shown he can turn double plays pretty well and he’s given Craig Counsell some confidence in his defense at the position.
There’s no way that all three of Shaw, Moustakas, and Schoop can fit on this roster next season. One of them has to go. Shaw isn’t going anywhere. He’s under cheap team control for three more years. That leaves it to either Moustakas or Schoop.
Moustakas is clearly comfortable in Milwaukee and has been the better player. Schoop has never once appeared comfortable and still hasn’t found his offensive stride after two months.
The Mutual Option
Moustakas will earn $15 million next year if both he and the Brewers exercise the option. But that’s a high price to pay for Milwaukee. As much as I love Moustakas, I don’t think they should pay him that much money to bring him back.
Moose faced a tough time in free agency last offseason as he looked for a long term deal and since his numbers haven’t really jumped up more than last year’s, he’ll likely face a tough time again this winter.
What the Brewers could do is, decline their end of the option on Moustakas and try to re-sign him in free agency. They could save some money by bringing him back on a deal for less money. They would risk another team signing him in free agency, but that’s a risk they’ll have to take.
With top prospect Keston Hiura almost ready, it’s unlikely Moustakas is signed past one year. Travis Shaw can be a placeholder at second base, move back to third base in 2020 as Keston Hiura is ready for the starting role by that time.
The Milwaukee Brewers won’t be able to keep both Moustakas and Schoop next year. With how both of them have played this season, the smarter move is to keep Moustakas and get rid of Schoop.
This won’t be the original plan for David Stearns, but his Plan B has become his best option for success moving forward in 2019.