Spring Training is less than five weeks away, and Mike Moustakas is still looking for a contract. Does that mean that Moustakas could look to return to the Milwaukee Brewers?
The lack of activity in free agency came as a surprise to many last off season. Players were left out to dry as the big names stayed patient in picking and choosing where to spend the next part of their careers. There was even talk of collusion among the owners. Now, a year later, its more of the same. And one of the big Milwaukee Brewers’ targets, third basemen Mike Moustakas, is affected.
What’s the market for Moustakas look like now?
Similar to last year, the former Royal was frozen out of the free agent market after declining a one-year offer from Kansas City at $17.4 million in November. He settled for a contract worth $6.5 million for 2018 and declined his mutual option for 2019, set at $15 million, likely in hopes of receiving a long term deal this off season.
Moustakas is set to experience the same results as last off season. Power bats at the corner infield experienced trouble in last years’ off season and are going through the same struggles in 2018-2019. With the increase in power throughout the league, teams are no longer going out of their way to sign power hitters who are limited defensively to lengthy or large contracts.
How well did Moustakas play in 2018?
There is hope for a return to his previous productive self. Up until now, Moustakas has played his entire career in Kansas City, home to a vast ballpark that kills power. He didn’t care much for that by launching 38 home runs in 2017 in his last full season with the Royals before coming over to the Milwaukee Brewers in a trade in 2018.
Since moving to Wisconsin, the results have not been as expected. He struggled a bit in the power department but still finished with an above average weighted runs created plus (wRC+) at 103 in just over 200 plate appearances for the Brewers. He now sits on the market hoping that’s enough to garner a long term deal.
Does that improve the Brewers chances of signing him?
The Milwaukee Brewers are in prime position to get an underrated corner infielder for less than he is actually worth. Even in a down year offensively, Moustakas still produced an average WAR for his position. That’s not heartwarming, but it shows that he can still be productive even in a down offensive year.
If Milwaukee were to resign Moustakas, they would be getting a 30-year-old corner infielder who spent most of his career in a ball park that doesn’t fit his profile. The power hitting third basemen will reap the benefits of getting a full year in a hitter’s park like Miller.
This would be a ripe opportunity to expose a market inefficiency and buy low on a guy that could thrive in Miller Park. Considering the lack of interest thus far, Moustakas would most likely come cheaper than expected for an impact bat like his. Last off season he went from being offered $17.4 million in November to earning $6.5 million in 2018. That’s a significant discount (nearly $11 million if you needed help with the math) that a small market team like the Milwaukee Brewers needs to take advantage of.
It makes a lot of sense for Moustakas to return to the potent Milwaukee Brewers lineup for a full season and show that 38 home runs isn’t the ceiling at the plate. Now that his free agency has extended into the new year, and with the lack of impact transactions from Milwaukee, it’s looking more likely that Brewers’ fans will be seeing Moose for another year.