Cincinnati Reds: Signing Mike Moustakas is a step toward contention

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 13: Mike Moustakas #11 of the Milwaukee Brewers rounds the bases for a solo home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at Dodger Stadium on April 13, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 13: Mike Moustakas #11 of the Milwaukee Brewers rounds the bases for a solo home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at Dodger Stadium on April 13, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds officially announced the signing of Mike Moustakas yesterday. Acquiring Moose is the first step toward contention for the Reds.

Mike Moustakas is officially a member of the Cincinnati Reds. The club made the announcement yesterday and handed Moustakas jersey No. 9, recently vacated after José Peraza was non-tendered. Brining Moose into the fold is a step in the right direction for a Reds team looking to compete for a division crown this coming season.

Reds Country has been eagerly awaiting roster moves all offseason. When the news broke earlier this week that Moustakas had reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with Cincinnati, that anxiety turned to anticipation for what may be on the horizon for the Reds. Moustakas brings instant credibility to the front office’s pledge to compete in 2020.

Moustakas signed a four-year/$64M contract. Moustakas’ contract will escalate in value over time, with the second baseman earning $12M this coming season. Moustakas will then take home $14M in 2021, $16M in 2022, and $18M in 2023 with a $20M mutual option for 2024 including a $4M buyout.

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Mike Moustakas is slated to man second base for the foreseeable future. After the majority of his career was spent at third base, the 31-year-old switched positions last season while playing in Milwaukee and took over at second base for 47 games. After Travis Shaw struggled to begin the 2019 season, Moose was moved back to third base and Keston Huira took over for Moustakas.

Second base was a mess for the Reds last season. After an All-Star season in 2018, Scooter Gennett injured his groin during spring training and was replaced by Peraza. Peraza’s struggles at the plate led the Reds to plug Derek Dietrich in at second base. After a mighty offensive collapse, Dietrich was eventually replaced.

Cincinnati slotted several different players into the position, and none of them seemed to stick. In addition to Gennett, Peraza, and Dietrich, Cincinnati also put Josh VanMeter, Alex Blandino, Freddy Galvis, and Kyle Farmer at second base. Signing Moustakas will give Cincinnati a steady presence at the position for years to come.

Moustakas brings power from the left side, slashing .254/.329/.516 with 35 home runs and 85 RBIs in 2019. He’ll likely be slotted right behind Eugenio Suárez in the Reds lineup and give Cincinnati a legitimate cleanup hitter to plug into the No. 4 spot in the lineup. Moustakas isn’t a big on-base guy, but he has power, which is perfectly suited for that spot in the batting order.

While the Reds front office has expressed interest in adding addition pieces to the roster through either free agency or a trade, Moustakas already gives thee Reds lineup a boost. Cincinnati’s hitting was the downfall of the team last season. The Reds ranked 12th in runs scored and OPS and 10th in slugging. Moustakas will help to remedy those numbers.

Moustakas’ signing indicates the Reds are comfortable with former top prospect Nick Senzel remaining in center field. While several rumors have popped up regarding the Reds interest in Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos, the trio slated to play in the corner outfield next season are not abysmal.

Aristides Aquino in right field, flanked by the platoon of Jesse Winker and Phillip Ervin in left, would be enough at the dish. However, adding a bat like Ozuna’s or Castellanos’ would likely make Cincinnati the favorites in the NL Central. The rumored interest in shortstop Didi Gregorius could also prove to be a boost to the offense.

Given the current state of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Chicago Cubs insistence to shed salary, and the likely decline of the St. Louis Cardinals, the NL Central seems ripe for the picking. Cincinnati’s desire to bring in another starter that could solidify the Reds pitching staff as the best in the league, further cements the claim to make 2020 a year in which they look to lock up the division.

Signing Mike Moustakas alone already makes the Reds a competitor in the National League Central, but if the Reds want to greatly increase their odds, another potent bat in the lineup is necessary. Where that might come from is anyone’s guess, but shortstop and/or catcher are still areas of concern.

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I don’t believe the Cincinnati Reds are finished stockpiling for next season. President of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall have been working the phones and seem poised to add another major piece to next year’s club. One more addition to the Reds lineup would put Cincinnati in the driver’s seat, but Moustakas already gives Cincinnati a leg up.