The Braves have just announced that they agreed to a contract extension through 2014 with general manager Frank Wren.
Not surprising. And, even though I snark at him sometimes, not a bad move. Wren doesn’t always hit, but he’s hit more than he’s missed lately, and the player development machine — pitchers mostly, but some good position players like Jason Heyward, Freddie Freemen and Andrelton Simmons — he has kept operation in good order. His non-move on the Ryan Dempster deal was a good one. He hasn’t done harm, and that’s probably the most important thing.
And really, given that the fundamental dynamic of running the Atlanta Braves involves dealing with the iron-clad budget given to the team by their corporate overlords at Liberty Media, keeping a guy who is used to that is probably a good move.
Wren’s biggest immediate challenge: filling holes at third base — and the middle of the lineup, really — with the retirement of Chipper Jones and center field with the presumed departure of free agent Michael Bourn. He now has a couple years more breathing room in which to do it.
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.