When word of Mike Moustakas’ impending return to the Brewers broke, the assumption among many was that the Milwaukee organization would utilize the same defensive alignment as in 2019: Travis Shaw shifting over to second base and Moustakas handling third base. However, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that the Brewers will use Spring Training to determine if Moustakas is able to handle second base. If the team is satisfied with what it sees, Moustakas will be the primary second baseman, with Shaw remaining at third base.
While the arrangement likely isn’t one that many would anticipate, it does have the potential to be the best of their options. Shaw, after all, has turned in quite strong defensive marks at the hot corner since coming to Milwaukee, recording 22 Defensive Runs Saved and a +3.5 Ultimate Zone Rating across the past few seasons. Moustakas, meanwhile, has been average or slightly better for most of the past four seasons (with his return year from surgery to repair an ACL tear standing out as an understandable exception).
If Moustakas is able to play even competently at second base, the Brewers could enjoy the benefit of retaining a plus defender at the hot corner. Of course, if the experiment doesn’t yield dividends, there’ll be a fair bit of second-guessing as to why the Brewers didn’t simply acquire a truer option at second base. The market certainly had — and still has — alternatives. Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Harrison and Logan Forsythe are among the currently available players, and it’s worth pointing out that the Brewers were seemingly willing to pay more to play Moustakas out of position than they’d have needed to pay to simply sign Brian Dozier, who went to the Nationals for one year and $9MM.
Of course, the 30-year-old Moustakas is coming off of his fourth-straight season of above-average offensive work, with his consistent power making up for less-than-certain on-base numbers. And the Brewers know well what they are getting, having seen Moustakas up close down the stretch in 2018. In any event, it’ll be fascinating to see how the experiment pans out.