Two members of the Milwaukee Brewers recently elected free agency rather than picking up their player options. The Cincinnati Reds should pounce.
The Milwaukee Brewers had a plethora of All-Stars last season. Two of those players, Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal, are ticketed for free agency after declining to pick up their player options as part of their contracts signed last season. The Cincinnati Reds, desperate for offense, should pursue both Grandal and Moustakas in free agency.
After seeing them in the opposing dugout more than 15 times last season, the Reds should put a call in to Grandal and Moustakas. Both free agents combined for 5.2 WAR last season and had an overall and OPS above .800 last season. That type of offensive production should top the Reds wish list this winter.
Milwaukee ranked fifth in the National League last season in on-base percentage, while Cincinnati finished 12th. This was in no small measure to the stats that Grandal and Moustakas put up. Grandal’s .380 OBP put him among the Top 10 in the league. Moustakas’ .329 OBP did not rank as highly, but the second basemen currently on the roster don’t even come close to that number.
Both Grandal and Moustakas showcased unreal power last season. Grandal, the former Reds farmhand, hit a career-high 28 home runs and has four straight years of 20 or more dingers. Moustakas fell three homers short of his career-best, but still sent 35 balls over the wall. Both players had 70-plus RBIs as well.
When it comes to holes in the Reds lineup, catcher is obviously a place that the front office will look to upgrade. Whether it’s through a trade or free agency, Dick Williams and Nick Krall made it obvious last season, with their pursuit of J.T. Realmuto, that the baseball operations department expects more from the backstop position.
Grandal is the best catcher on the market, and it’s not even close. Travis d’Arnaud and Robinson Chirinos may be the next best available. With Tucker Barnhart‘s subpar offensive performance in 2019, he didn’t do a lot to instill confidence in the front office that he’s the man for the job. Look for the Reds to leave no stone unturned when it comes to upgrading the catcher spot.
As for Moustakas, by trade he’s a third baseman. Obviously, the Reds are in great shape there, having one of the top players at that position in Eugenio Suárez. However, Moustakas started 40 games at second base last season and that’s a position of need for Cincinnati heading into the offseason.
Moustakas took to the position quite well. While he’s not an elite defender at either position, Mike Moustakas lets his bat do the talking. It’s not yet know if the Reds desire to move Nick Senzel back to the infield, but they choose to keep last year’s rookie in center field, very few options on the free agent market will bring better results to the second base position than Moustakas.
Besides upgrading their own team, the Cincinnati Reds could take the opportunity to wound their NL Central competitors in Milwaukee. The Brewers have gone to the postseason the past two seasons, and taking away one, or both, free agents from a division rival will only enhance the Reds chances to make a run at the playoffs in 2020.
Cincinnati’s front office has said they plan to be active during the offseason, and with an increased payroll, players like Moustakas and Grandal should be among the first to receive a phone call from president of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall.