Brewers Add Mike Moustakas, Royals Get A New Outfielder
After building on one of the team’s biggest strengths by adding Joakim Soria to an already deep and talented bullpen, the Brewers tried to fix one of the team’s biggest weaknesses late Friday night, swapping a pair of prospects to the Royals for one of the best power bats on the rental trade market.
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Moustakas’ foray into free agency last offseason was a bust. After turning down the qualifying offer from the Royals, he found himself on a market with very few teams looking for third basemen, and no team that seemed enamored with signing him to a long-term deal and paying the draft pick compensation penalty that would come with signing him. He eventually headed back to the Royals for a one-year, $6.5 million deal. Moustakas will not have to worry about having draft pick compensation tied to his contract this offseason. What he brings to the Brewers is steady, average defense at third base and consistent lefthanded power. While Moustakas has struggled to hit for average during his career (he’s a career .251 hitter with a .306 on-base percentage) he also doesn’t strike out much. His 15 percent strikeout rate is quite modest for a hitter with 30-plus home run power.
With Moustakas joining the lineup, Milwaukee is expected to shift Travis Shaw to second base, shoring up what has been the a weak spot with Jonathan Villar on the disabled list. Shaw has never played second base, and at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, he’s over-sized for the position. But if it works, it also would potentially allow the Brewers to play Villar some at shortstop once he returns in August, shoring up a second hole in the lineup, as Orlando Arcia has hit .193/.226./.245. Villar was the Brewers' shortstop in 2016, but slid over to second in deference to the superior defense of Arcia.
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Brett Phillips, OF
This is the second time Phillips has been traded by a contending team to a rebuilding team at the trade deadline. He was sent from the Astros to the Brewers along with Domingo Santana and Josh Hader in a trade that sent Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez to the Astros in July 2015. Phillips is a big league-ready outfielder who has struggled at the plate this year as he’s yo-yo’d back and forth between Triple-A Colorado Springs and Milwaukee. Defensively, there are few questions with Phillips. He has plus speed and a top-of-the-scale throwing arm that ranks among the best in pro ball. He is above-average in center field and plus in the corners. Offensively, Phillips can be an above-average hitter or he can hit for average power. What he hasn’t shown is that he can do both at the same time. When he uses the entire field, he draws enough walks and hits enough line drives to post solid batting averages and on-base percentages. When he gets pull-happy, he can hit 15-20 home runs, but at the expense of his batting average and on-base percentage. Phillips needs regular at-bats to show what he can do in the majors. He wasn’t going to get that on a contending Brewers team. In Kansas City, he should get the opportunity to play everyday.
Jorge Lopez, RHP
Although he’s only 25 years old, Lopez is somewhat of a reclamation project for the Royals. In 2015, he looked to be one of the most promising pitchers in the Milwaukee system, as he dominated the Southern League thanks to a 92-96 mph fastball and a hard, downward-breaking curveball that gave him two plus pitches. But his curveball disappeared in the thin air of Colorado Springs and his control and command went with it. In the past three seasons, Lopez has struggled thanks to control issues and eventually moved to the bullpen. His curveball is still his best weapon and his 93-95 mph fastball out of the bullpen is firm enough if he can locate it. But that’s been the problem for Lopez. He’s struggled with below-average control the past three years. If he can throw enough strikes, he could still be a useful sixth/seventh-inning reliever, but he has work to do to regain even fringe-average command.