Shortstop now the priority for St. Louis

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After addressing their rotation and the bullpen with Wednesday’s Colby Rasmus swap, the Cardinals are looking for shortstop help, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  He hears that a move is likely and that it could be a “difference-maker.”

Of course, there isn’t really much for difference makers on the shortstop market.  Jose Reyes is unavailable.  Rafael Furcal is the big name, but he’s hitting .195 in 133 at-bats this season.

Shortstops thought to be available at the right price include Washington’s Ian Desmond, Houston’s Clint Barmes and Seattle’s Jack Wilson.  San Diego’s Jason Bartlett is better than that bunch, but it doesn’t appear that the Padres are at all eager to move him.

The Cardinals, though, could stand to do something.  They knew they were taking a hit defensively when they acquired Ryan Theriot to replace Brendan Ryan over the winter, but Theriot hasn’t made up for it with his bat, having hit just .263/.311/.320 in 353 at-bats.  Plus, the Cards are also struggling at second base and Theriot might be more useful there if a full-time shortstop is acquired.

So, let’s see what John Mozeliak can come up with.

Update: For what it’s worth, the Houston Chronicle’s Brian McTaggert is reporting that the Astros have told teams Barmes isn’t available.  Because when you’re cruising toward the worst record in the major leagues and you have a chance to keep a mediocre shortstop that’s going to a free agent at season’s end, you just have to do it.

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.