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Mike Moustakas
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Offseason Lowdown

Lowdown: The Moose Returns

by David Shovein
Updated On: February 18, 2019, 12:43 am ET

The Moose Returns

 

The Brewers found a nice bargain just as spring training is getting started, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Sunday that they had agreed to bring back Mike Moustakas on a one-year contract.

 

Bob Nightengale of USA Today followed shortly thereafter, announcing that the 30-year-old third baseman would earn $10 million in the deal. The contract also includes a mutual option for the 2020 season.

 

At this stage, you have to think that Moustakas and his representatives are kicking themselves for turning down the Royals’ $17.4 million qualifying offer following the 2017 season. The third baseman ended up signing a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Royals and earned another $2.2 million in incentives. Combined with the $10 million that he’ll earn from the Brewers in 2019, that’ll be $18.7 million over the last two seasons, just $1.3 million more than the one-year offer he decline for 2018.

 

Moustakas wasn’t a world-beater during his time with the Brewers in 2018, slashing .256/.326/.441 with eight homers, 20 runs scored, 33 RBI and one stolen base in 54 games. From a fantasy perspective though, this is probably the best possible landing spot for him. He’ll hit in the middle of a loaded lineup, is locked in as the club’s regular third baseman and will play his home games at Miller Park, which is extremely favorable for left-handed power hitters.

 

In February drafts, Moustakas has sported an ADP of 153.30, putting him just outside the top 10 rounds in 15-team formats. On average, he has been the 19th player off the board with third base eligibility. I’d anticipate with a return to Milwaukee, that Moustakas’ ADP will rise in the coming weeks, likely by a full round or two, settling somewhere in the 135-140 range by end of the spring.

 

With Moustakas returning to Milwaukee, Travis Shaw is expected to slide back over to man second base. That means that Cory Spangenberg and Hernan Perez, who were expected to battle for the starting spot at second base, will return to utility roles.


 

 

Talks Intensifying

 

It's now February 18. With all 30 spring training camps now open around the league, there’s a bit of urgency for the top free agents on the market to finally decide on their destinations for the 2019 season. On Sunday, the rumors were swirling around both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and the conclusions to these sagas look one step closer.

 

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported that the Bryce Harper talks have "intensified" and that the Phillies are the favorites to land him. While he cautioned that "nothing’s done yet," it does appear we could finally have some momentum.

 

There's been some speculation that Harper might be willing to take a short-term, high-AAV contract, but Heyman says the star outfielder will be signing a long-term deal.

 

Bob Nightengale of USA Today added to the buzz, reporting that Harper will ultimately land a larger contract than the 10-year, $300 million offer that he turned down from the Nationals in September.

 

Heyman then gave us the nugget that Harper currently has multiple long-term offers on the table with an average annual value in excess of $30 million.

 

While the Phillies are currently viewed as the favorites to land the superstar slugger, Heyman notes that it's still an "evolving market". The White Sox, Padres, Giants and Nationals are still believed to be in the mix, and there could always be a mystery team lurking, ready to strike.

 

Where there's this much smoke, there's usually fire, so expect a resolution to this saga in the coming days. After which, the rest of the remaining free agent market should fall into place.

 

As far as the battle for Machado is concerned, Heyman reported early Sunday that Machado is expected to take the highest offer that he gets, regardless of where the team is located. The initial belief at the outset of the offseason was that Machado preferred to play on the east coast, though that appears to have shifted.

 

The Padres have jumped to the forefront of the Machado sweepstakes over the past week, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Sunday that their offer on the table is currently as high as $280 million over eight years.

That's a nice increase over the over the $240 million that other clubs have reportedly offered. The Padres were also creative in the way they structured the contract for Eric Hosmer last offseason and could be looking to do something similar here.

It isn’t just Machado though that the Padres are after, they also have an offer on the table for Harper, which is believed to be in excess of $300 million. Both they and the Phillies (and to a lesser extent the White Sox) seem to be right in the thick of things for both players, though it would be an unbelievably shocking development if they wound up on the same team.

 

Yankees extend Severino

 

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported early Friday that the Yankees had locked up star right-hander Luis Severino on a four-year, $40 million contract extension.

 

The deal also includes a $15 million club option for the 2023 season.

 

The deal, which is pending a physical, buys out all of Severino's arbitration years and potentially his first year of free agency. If the option is exercised (and it almost certainly will be) Severino would be locked up through his age-29 season and be in line to finally hit free agency at age 30.

 

It's an extremely team-friendly deal (as these things almost always are), but Severino does at least get some long-term security.

 

The 24-year-old hurler has been outstanding over the last two seasons, going 33-14 with a 3.18 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 450/97 K/BB ratio across 384 ⅔ innings. Severino has been coming off of draft boards as a top-10 starting pitcher this month, sporting an overall ADP of 35.56 in NFBC drafts.

 

American League Quick Hits: Royals’ manager Ned Yost announced that he expects to use a “loose platoon” at first base between Ryan O’Hearn and Hunter Dozier, with the latter spelling O’Hearn against most southpaws… Michael Fulmer lost his arbitration case against the Tigers and will earn a $2.8 million salary in 2019… Steven Wright is expected to work exclusively out of the bullpen for the Red Sox this spring… Matt Chapman (thumb, shoulder) took 20 swings in batting practice on Friday without issue. He’s on track to be ready for Opening Day… The Angels signed veteran left-hander Dan Jennings to a minor league contract with a big league camp invite. He should have a decent chance of cracking the Halos’ Opening Day bullpen… The Royals inked Drew Storen to a minor league contract with a spring training invite… Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters that RHP Fernando Romero will be converted into a reliever this spring… The Twins also view Adalberto Mejia as a starter, and will use him as such this spring… CC Sabathia held a press conference to formally announce that 2019 will be his final major league season… The Orioles’ signed long-time former Royals’ shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract with a big league camp invite… Mallex Smith (elbow) will be limited the first 7-10 days of spring training, Mariners manager Scott Servais said Saturday. He has been sidelined with a sore right throwing arm. As of now, he’s expected to be ready for Opening Day, but it’s a situation to monitor… Tyler Glasnow has experienced a noticeable uptick in velocity during early spring throwing sessions, topping out at 98.7 mph, versus the 96.5 mph of his average fastball during the 2018 season… The Rangers signed speedster Ben Revere to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… Miguel Sano will be examined for a right heel laceration that he suffered while in the Dominican Republic. The severity of the injury, and how much time he may miss, remains unclear at the moment… Albert Pujols (knee, elbow) expects to be ready to go for Opening Day… Shohei Ohtani (elbow) is hoping to progress to hitting off a tee next week. He isn’t expected to make his debut until May… Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sunday that Aaron Hicks is the front-runner to bat leadoff this season... Marcus Stroman expressed his desire to sign a long-term contract extension with the Blue Jays.

National League Quick Hits: The Brewers signed Jay Jackson to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp. The 31-year-old hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2015 and spent the past three seasons in Japan, where he registered a 2.10 ERA and a 192/68 K/BB ratio in 176 innings… Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Friday that Cesar Hernandez will be given "a long look" in the leadoff spot this spring… Brewers' manager Craig Counsell said Friday that Ryan Braun isn't expected to see significant action at first base during the upcoming season… Nationals' manager Dave Martinez indicated Friday that Joe Ross will start the spring behind Jeremy Hellickson in the race for the fifth spot in the team's starting rotation… Yoenis Cespedes (heel) said Friday that he firmly believes he'll return to the field during the 2019 season… Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic reports that Gerardo Parra was given a handshake agreement that he would see regular starts in the outfield for the Giants this year… The Giants also added Cameron Maybin to their outfield mix on a minor league deal… Braves manager Brian Snitker said Saturday that Ronald Acuna could bat leadoff for the club this season… Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez plans to split playing time at catcher this season between Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki… Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Sunday that Curtis Granderson is a candidate to bat leadoff this season… Rockies’ manager Bud Black said Sunday that Mark Reynolds could see some time at second base this spring… The Padres signed Aaron Loup to a one-year, $1.4 million contract with a $2 million club option for 2020… The Mets signed Adeiny Hechavarria to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp.

 

David Shovein
Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.