Milwaukee Brewers: Soria & Moustakas Elect Free Agency
By Isaac Buttke
Joakim Soria and Mike Moustakas both had mutual options. Both opted to head into free agency. What’s next for the Milwaukee Brewers?
The Milwaukee Brewers added Joakim Soria and Mike Moustakas just before the trade deadline this past season. Outside of their abilities on the field, part of their intrigue stemmed from a potential extra year in the organization. However, since both players had options for the 2019 season, there was no guarantee they’d be back for next season. In both of these cases, the option was turned down by one of the parties, allowing both mid-season acquisitions to enter free agency.
Does this mean both of these players are gone for good? Not necessarily. Free agency allows them to sign with any team in baseball, including the Milwaukee Brewers. That said, does it make sense for them to return to the Brewers? Let’s dive into that further.
Should the Brewers Sign Joakim Soria in Free Agency?
At face value, Soria was a decent reliever with the Brewers. His 4.09 ERA with Milwaukee was a far cry from his 2.56 mark with the White Sox in the first half, but the veteran produced a 10.6 K/9 and maintained a low walk rate following the trade. However, his 2.93 FIP suggests Soria was even better than his ERA indicates. Additionally, he tends to be more of a groundball pitcher and hasn’t produced an HR/9 above 1.00 either of the past two seasons. This is a very good thing in a hitter-friendly stadium like Miller Park.
Performance isn’t the only factor, though. Finances are important to consider as well. Soria was paid $9 million last season, $8 million the season before and $7 million the two years prior. Since he’s been a fairly successful pitcher, he figures to ask for a bit of a raise in free agency. Had the option been picked up, Soria would have made $10 million in 2019. It’s unclear if that wasn’t enough money for him, or if he simply figured he’d be able to make more money elsewhere. Regardless, with a $1 million buyout already on the books, Soria certainly wouldn’t be a cheap sign.
Soria was a good pickup for Milwaukee last season. He provided good depth for the bullpen, though he faltered a bit in the NLCS. He would be a good addition to the bullpen for 2019, but there’s a good chance general manager David Stearns can find a cheaper reliever who can provide similar services. Especially with a lot of players expected to receive raises in arbitration this offseason, the Brewers need to save money where they can.
Should the Brewers Sign Mike Moustakas in Free Agency?
Moustakas gave the offense a nice boost during his time in Milwaukee. In 54 games with the Crew, he slashed .256/.326/.441 with eight home runs, 12 doubles and 33 RBI. He also played a big role in the NLDS, batting .364 with a pair of RBI in the three-game sweep. The 30-year-old struggled in the NLCS, but his bat and experience were a big reason the Brewers won the division and got to Game 7 of the NLCS.
Just like Soria, however, money is an important factor here. Moustakas was a free agent last year and attempted to sign a multi-year deal. However, a tough free agent market plus draft pick compensation tacked onto his name forced him to settle for a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Royals. He’ll presumably be looking for a multi-year deal again, though perhaps he’ll temper his monetary expectations a bit. It is worth noting that his option was worth $15 million, and the Brewers once again had to pay a $1 million buyout.
Sure, Moustakas was an asset for the Brewers down the stretch. Beside his help on the field, his postseason experience and leadership was valuable to a young team. Plus, if we signed Moustakas, Travis Shaw would inherently move to second base again, blocking some of Milwaukee’s top prospects such as Mauricio Dubon and Keston Hiura from reaching the big leagues. Is all that really worth a multi-year deal for millions of dollars? Probably not.
Losing Soria and Moustakas will be tough for the Milwaukee Brewers. On the other hand, bringing them back could restrict their financial flexibility and hurt them elsewhere. They now have the option to sign with any other team in the league, and while it might be nice to have them once again, it may not be in the cards.