Pirates interested in Rick Ankiel, Hank Blalock

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Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have “made contact with” free agents Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock, both of whom would fit the team’s apparent plan to pursue players looking to “revive their careers.”
Kovacevic notes that the Pirates could bring in a free agent like Ankiel or Blalock on a short-term contract and then, depending on whether or not the team is in contention, either hang onto the player or use him as trade bait while clearing room for a prospect like Jose Tabata.
Garrett Jones will start somewhere after his huge rookie season. He’d likely play right field if Blalock is brought in to play first base, but could also play first base is Ankiel is signed to play right field. The latter strikes me as a far more intriguing option, because Jones’ glove is lacking and an outfield with Lastings Milledge in left, Andrew McCutchen in center, and Ankiel in right would be among baseball’s best defensively.

Brewers to give Mike Moustakas a look at second base

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The Brewers reportedly signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year, $10 million contract on Sunday. While the deal is not yet official, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers plan to give Moustakas a look at second base during spring training. If all goes well, he will be the primary second baseman and Travis Shaw will stay at third base.

The initial thought was that Moustakas would simply take over at third base for the more versatile Shaw. Moustakas has spent 8,035 of his career defensive innings at third base, 35 innings at first base, and none at second. In fact, he has never played second base as a pro player. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent 268 of his 4,073 1/3 defensive innings in the majors at second base and played there as recently as October.

This is certainly an interesting wrinkle to signing Moustakas, who is a decent third baseman. He was victimized by another slow free agent market, not signing until March last year on a $6.5 million deal with a $15 million mutual option for this season. That option was declined, obviously, and he ended up signing for $5 million cheaper here in February as the Brewers waited him out. Notably, Moustakas did not have qualifying offer compensation attached to him this time around.

Last season, between the Royals and Brewers, the 30-year-old Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances.