A return to Milwaukee for Mike Moustakas “seems inevitable,” writes The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who also suspects the Crew aren’t willing to extend a multi-year offer to the 30-year-old third baseman. Moustakas, who yet again has garnered little interest in his repeat foray into the free-agent market, would figure to reprise his role as the team’s primary third baseman, shifting Travis Shaw across the diamond to second. Moose’s 105 wRC+ output was slightly down from the previous three seasons, though his hard-hit rate jumped to a career-best 41.2%. His ZiPS projection, released yesterday on FanGraphs, shines brightly, perhaps as a result: the system forecasts a 116 OPS+/3.2 WAR output for the longtime Royal, seeing him as an easily above-average big-league third baseman. MLB teams, it seems, are hardly in accord.
Here’s more from around the NL . . .
- Milwaukee, who’s yet to tire of yo-yoing Shaw back and forth from second to third, also hasn’t begun extension talks with the now-versatile 28-year-old, reports Rosenthal. Fresh off his third 118 or better wRC+ season in four years, the former ninth-round selection of the Red Sox has found a home in Wisconsin, turning in consecutive 3.5+ fWAR campaigns in his first two seasons with the team. Peripherals paint an even better picture: Shaw upped his walk rate by nearly four percent, to 13.3, and dropped his strikeout rate to a career-low 18.4%, his first MLB season under 20 in the category. Though the minor-league track record was mostly stellar, save for two stints in AAA, the son of longtime MLB closer Jeff Shaw was never a highly-touted prospect, even in the hyped-up Boston system, and it’s certainly possible that the Brewers would like to see more before offering him a hefty chunk of change. Still, another season like the last two, and it may not be Milwaukee on the next deal’s bottom line.
- The quartet of prospects sent from Milwaukee to Miami in the Christian Yelich deal, headlined by the trio of Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, and Isan Diaz, top 100 guys all, have yet to look the part. Still, Miami doesn’t view the return as a “lost cause,” writes Rosenthal, who notes that the Fish are still particularly high on minor-league strikeout king Harrison. Diaz, too, has flashed an intriguing power/plate-discipline combo in the upper minors, and appears poised to get his second-base shot in the upcoming campaign. Brinson, to be sure, suffered through a rookie campaign that almost could not have gone worse, but figures to get all the ship-righting opportunities he needs in the seasons to come.
- Third baseman-turned-right fielder Brian Anderson will move back to the hot corner for 2019, tweets the Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer. Anderson handled the shift with aplomb last season, posting 4 DRS and a +5 UZR on the way to an impressive 3.4 fWAR rookie campaign. Still, a young, well-rounded third baseman is a tougher find, and the Fish will surely like to test their young outfielders in the months to come. One-time incumbent Martin Prado may be on his last leg, and it seems the Marlins will again to look to the 35-year-old to fill his early-career super-utility role in 2019.