Mike Moustakas starting second baseman for Brewers

Getty Images
24 Comments

A month ago, when the Milwaukee Brewers signed Mike Moustakas, Craig Counsell said that they’d give him a look at second base. It was a surprising statement given that Moustakas hasn’t played a single inning at second base in his entire career and given that Travis Shaw, the Brewers’ third baseman for most of last season, played 39 games at second base after Moustakas joined the team in a midseason trade. The expected move was that Shaw would go to second and Moustakas would end up at his usual third base.

This is especially true given that hardly any established players move from a corner position to a middle infield position and even fewer do it for the first time when they’re 30 like Moustakas is. Utility guys maybe, but it’s not like Moustakas was even a superior third baseman. He was fine, but no one ever considered him a defensive whiz over there.

Yet, here we are. The early spring training experiment is going to continue into the regular season:

On the one hand I want to say that if such a move — an eight-year veteran moving left on the defensive spectrum for a contending team — had a great chance of success, it would’ve been more common in baseball history. On the other hand teams are obviously looking at defense in a far more granular way now than they used to and are thus able to rely far less on the “it’s not frequently done” prejudices and far more on data and positioning and all of that. The Brewers are not idiots, after all, and they want to win what might be the toughest division in baseball this year, so they wouldn’t do this if they didn’t truly think Moustakas could pull it off.

It’ll be fascinating to watch. 1987 Craig, who used to put square pegs in round defensive holes in order to maximize offense while playing baseball simulations on his Commodore 64, approves.

Rays’ Díaz gets $24 million, three-year deal, avoids arbitration

Getty Images
1 Comment

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Díaz agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract on Tuesday that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

Díaz’s agreement could be worth $36 million over four seasons.

The 31-year old will receive $6 million this season, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million for 2025. The 2026 club is $12 million with no buyout. There is a $1 million assignment bonus that would be payable by receiving team.

Díaz has spent parts of six seasons in the majors with Cleveland (2017-18) and Tampa Bay (2019-22). He has a career average of .278 with 39 home runs and 198 RBIs.

Acquired by the Rays in a three-team trade on Dec. 13, 2018, Díaz hit .296 with nine homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games last season, He career highs with 71 runs, 140 hits, 33 doubles, and 78 walks.

Díaz was the third Rays’ arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks agreed Friday to a $12 million, three-year contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs also agreed last week to a $31 million, four-year contract that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year-old began last season in the bullpen and transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, and outfielder Harold Ramírez.