Bringing back third baseman Mike Moustakas looks like a priority for the Milwaukee Brewers this off season. But how much competition will they face from other teams?
Mike Moustakas was one of the heroes of the Milwaukee Brewers 2019 season. Originally tasked with filling in at second base, he ended up having to move back to third once Travis Shaw’s struggles were too much and Keston Hiura got the call from the Minors. Oh, and he also hit 35 home runs and turned in a 2.8 WAR season.
Moustakas going through the free agent process for the third consecutive year. He should be able to secure the elusive multi-year deal he’s been seeking, but will it come from the Brewers or from another team?
How good was Moustakas in 2019?
Good enough to make it hard to see the Brewers infield without him in 2020.
Moustakas slashed .254/.329/.516 in 584 plate appearances in 2019. He slugged 35 homers, drove in 87 runs, scored 80 times, and spent time as a starter at two different positions.
What kind of deal could Moustakas secure?
If he signs for a third consecutive one-year deal, he needs to fire his agent yesterday. Moustakas did everything he could to improve upon a solid 2018 campaign, and should find a team to give him the security he’s been looking for.
2020 will be Moustakas’ age-31 season, and his skill set isn’t reliant on speed or athleticism. He should be essentially the same guy as long as his bat speed doesn’t suddenly disappear.
The bottom line is the Brewers will have to offer at least two years, and pay Moustakas anywhere from $10 million to $16 million in average annual value. Would a two-year deal in the range of $26 million get Moustakas back in the fold for 2020 and 2021? That wouldn’t bust the Brewers budget, and it would allow Moustakas to stay in the same city for a few years.
Where will the competition come from?
The Braves could need a replacement for Josh Donaldson. The Texas Rangers could view Moustakas as plan C if they miss on Donaldson or Anthony Rendon. Moustakas could also be on the Philadelphia Phillies radar as they appear to have had enough of Maikel Franco. That’s at least three teams the Milwaukee Brewers may have to fight off to keep Moustakas on the roster for 2020.
Moustakas went through most of the 2018/2019 off season without generating much interest until the Brewers came calling with a one-year deal with an option. The fact that he’s getting attention early indicates that there is a real market for him, and the Brewers will have to get into the bidding to keep him. Unless a team goes over the top with a three-year deal with an AAV over $14 million, the Brewers should be able to retain Moustakas.
There will be competition, but most teams in on Moustakas are also in on Rendon and Donaldson. Those two may have to sign before other teams get serious in their efforts to sign Moustakas. It may make sense for the Brewers to make their offer early, and hope that Moustakas signs before the other top options find their next contracts.