The Rangers had the idea to make reliever Matt Bush a starter this year. That idea has now been dismissed, as Evan Grant reports that Texas will send Bush back to the bullpen.
Smart move, and not just because he hasn’t done well in his spring starts thus far. For one thing, he has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in his two years in the bigs and only started one game in the minors, way back in 2010. For another thing, he had shoulder surgery back in October and, even if it was relatively minor, you don’t want to substantially increase the workload of a guy coming off of shoulder surgery. For another thing, he throws a fastball and a curveball, and that’s basically it, and that’s not going to get the job done as a starter.
Putting Bush back in the pen will end any remaining talk about the Rangers using a six-man rotation. It leaves the rotation as Cole Hamels, Matt Moore, Doug Fister, Mike Minor and either Martin Perez, if he’s healthy to start the season, or Bartolo Colon if he’s not. Grant says that Jesse Chavez could be used as a swingman to spot start or take over if Perez is hurt and/or the 44-year-old Colon is ineffective.
After returning to baseball following years in the wilderness — and time in prison — Bush was fantastic for the Rangers in 2016. He took a step back in 2017, though, posting a 3.78 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 58/19 in 52.1 innings. His K rate was up but his walk rate and hit rate were too, basically. The Rangers are obviously hoping that his fixed shoulder will help him whip back into 2016 form. He’s way more likely to do that as a reliever.
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.