Mike Moustakas to play second base
The Brewers are an absolutely fascinating team and were just one win away from winning the National League pennant in 2018. There are some conventional reasons they were so good — they had the NL MVP, for one thing — but they also do some really interesting things to differentiate themselves from other squads. They don’t really have a whole lot of starting pitching, but instead rely on a bananas bullpen. On top of that, they have decided to sort of punt on infield defense, just putting together the best offense they can and worrying about the rest later. Last year, that meant old friend Travis Shaw playing second base and doing a lot better than I ever would have expected. This year, they brought Mike Moustakas back in free agency and he’s going to spend his time at the keystone position. This is a wild move to shift over the guy who has played third for his entire career.
Why do we care as Red Sox fans? Well, many are hoping for a similar shift from Michael Chavis. Now, Chavis isn’t as established at the hot corner as Moustakas, and the Red Sox prospect did get drafted as a shortstop not that long ago. Still, it seems optimistic for him to play in the middle infield just like it does with Moustakas. Milwaukee’s logic is that they shift enough and have enough faith in their positioning strategy that they can hide players off their natural position. Theoretically, if the Red Sox were confident enough in their positioning they could possibly talk themselves into Chavis at second. However, the Brewers do also have a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop in Orlando Acria, which is something the Red Sox don’t have. Ultimately, I still don’t think Chavis makes sense up the middle, but this Moustakas decision does make things a little more interesting. He’s obviously just keeping the spot warm for Mauricio Dubon, though.
Blake Snell gets modest raise from Rays
We know the baseball economic system is broken. There is disagreement about who is to blame, how much we should care and how to fix it, but the system is broken. Players have always been told they’d make up for being underpaid early in their career and get that money later on. Now, teams understandably don’t want to pay worse and aging players, but it’s not being made up for on the front end. Case in point: Blake Snell. The Rays lefty just won the damn Cy Young and the Rays have 100 percent control over his salary. Generally, teams give star players who are in their pre-arbitration years some sort of token raise to put them significantly above the league minimum. There is no rule saying they have to, but it’s a show of good faith from the organization. The Rays, however, will pay Snell just $573,700, less than $20,000 over the minimum. Tampa is within their rights to give out such a small deal to the reigning Cy Young, but it’s a bad look and is understandably pissed off. He can’t do much about it now, but he will now be motivated to go get as much as humanly possible in arbitration and likely feels no loyalty towards the Rays organization. This is good news for the Red Sox, but another example of why the next CBA negotiations will be so contentious. Jack Flaherty of the Cardinals is going through a similar situation as well.