For the third straight season the Pirates will go with left-hander Francisco Liriano as their Opening Day starter, which is noteworthy because it means right-hander Gerrit Cole will not get the Opening Day nod following a season in which he finished fourth in the Cy Young balloting.
However, with Cole recovering from an offseason rib cage injury the Pirates don’t want to rush his timetable and manager Clint Hurdle told Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that “it wouldn’t be fair to him to try and push that deadline date on him.”
Cole has yet to make his spring training debut, but the Pirates are hoping he’ll be stretched out to around the 100-pitch mark shortly after Opening Day. And of course Liriano is certainly deserving too. He has a 3.26 ERA with 543 strikeouts in 510 innings since signing with the Pirates in 2013, including a 3.38 ERA and 205 strikeouts in 187 innings last season.
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.