The Moose is loose no more.
On Sunday, the day before the official start of Spring Training, the Brewers reached an agreement with free-agent infielder Mike Moustakas to return to the club for the 2019 season for $10 million.
“Moose” was traded from the Kansas City Royals to the Milwaukee Brewers at the trade deadline last season and started 50 games for the Brewers and was a reliable contact and power threat, with a .767 OPS and 8 home runs. In addition to his solid offensive contributions, Moustakas played stellar defense at third base through the stretch run and into the postseason.
The last two offseasons have not gone the way Moustakas had hoped in terms of contracts. Like several other players, he has been forced to settle for a one-year deal, when in past offseasons his services would surely warrant a multi-year contract. Perhaps settling for just one year deals for two straight seasons will be a motivator for Moustakas for this season and beyond, because every player, especially those of Moustakas’ caliber, deserve to go after every penny they can get.
Moustakas figures to help bridge the gap to the eventual call-up of Keston Hiura to play second base. This signing gives Craig Counsell tremendous organizational depth to work with in constructing his infield and his lineups in general. Moustakas will be the third left-hander that figures to be in the everyday starting lineup, along with Christian Yelich and Travis Shaw.
When Mike Moustakas arrived last season, natural third baseman Travis Shaw was shifted over to second base, where he was serviceable despite playing out of position. It would seem likely that the 2019 season will see more of that trend, however, positional versatility is a virtue, and it has come to light that Moustakas will be the primary second baseman to open the season according to Craig Counsell. That said, it would surprise me if Shaw and Moustakas were limited to only third base and second base, respectively.
Aside from his all-star ceiling as a player, Mike Moustakas provides an element of leadership that is indispensible. Having been to two World Series’ prior to arriving in Milwaukee last season, his presence as a clubhouse and on-field leader for some of the younger, inexperienced players on the roster was very much valued, and is a significant reason why he was immediately a fan favorite and welcomed back to Milwaukee for 2019.
Here’s to hoping that the “MOOOOOOSE” chants will be raining down at Miller Park deep into October once again in 2019.