Jay Bruce has been exclusively an outfielder in the majors and minors, playing there for each of his 1,257 professional games, but with first baseman Joey Votto likely headed to the disabled list Reds manager Bryan Price has Bruce starting at first base tonight against the Cubs.
Previously when Votto was sidelined the Reds used backup catcher Brayan Pena as their primary first baseman, but he’s currently on the paternity list. Once he returns it’ll be interesting to see if Pryce may also have realized how much that hurt the lineup considering Pena’s paltry offensive numbers.
For tonight at least the Reds are using Skip Schumaker in right field even though he actually has some past experience at first base. Schumaker isn’t much of a hitter either, but his lifetime .711 OPS is still 50 points higher than Pena’s career mark.
However, Bruce is considered an excellent defensive right fielder, so it’s not so clear if moving him to first base is worth whatever tradeoff comes with swapping Schumaker for Pena offensively.
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.