The Brewers announced Tuesday that third baseman Mike Moustakas and right-hander Joakim Soria have both declined their half of their 2019 mutual options. Moustakas’ option came with a $15MM value, while Soria’s was worth $10MM. Both players received a $1MM buyout and are now free agents.
Moustakas, who turned 30 last month, was traded from Kansas City to Milwaukee prior to the non-waiver trade deadline (in exchange for Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez) and went on to hit .256/.326/.441 with eight homers in 218 plate appearances as Milwaukee’s primary third baseman. On the season as a whole, the longtime Royals slugger hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 long balls and 33 doubles.
It’s the second consecutive quality season at the plate for Moustakas since returning from a 2016 ACL tear, and it’s bold, to an extent, to see him turn down the guaranteed $15MM he could’ve secured (if the Brewers were similarly comfortable paying him at that rate, which isn’t a given). Moustakas and agent Scott Boras found extremely limited interest in free agency last winter on the heels of a superior offensive season to the one he just concluded.
It’s certainly possible that Moustakas turned down some multi-year offers early in free agency and was ultimately forced to settle for his eventual one-year, $6.5MM deal after those suitors pursued alternative options. But now that he’s a year older and coming off a worse season with a relatively characteristic platoon split, it’d be hard to say that Moustakas did anything to truly elevate his profile in 2018. It’s true that he can no longer be saddled with a qualifying offer, which unquestionably sapped his market last offseason, so at the very least he’ll have that burden lifted as he explores the free-agent market for a second time.
As for Soria, the final season of his three-year, $25MM pact (also signed with the Royals) was arguably the best of the three. In 60 2/3 innings, the 34-year-old pitched to a tidy 3.12 ERA while averaging 11.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 0.59 HR/9 with a 35.7 percent ground-ball rate. Despite the fact that he’s entering his mid-30s, Soria posted the best swinging-strike rate (14.4 percent) and opponents’ chase rate (34.1 percent) of his impressive career. With that type of swing-and-miss ability in his back pocket, he’ll likely have little trouble topping the $10MM guarantee he’d have been promised had he instead accepted the option.