Jul 23, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) hits an RBI double during the seventh inning against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports

The surprising Milwaukee Brewers beat the San Francisco Giants for the second straight night at AT&T Park, improving their record to 60-46. They’re just 1.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central and have a 2.5-game lead for the top NL Wild Card slot.

The Brewers are already playing great baseball, and GM David Stearns is still upgrading their roster talent.

Milwaukee traded for White Sox closer Joakim Soria to add to an already loaded bullpen on Thursday. And on Friday, the Brewers acquired third baseman Mike Moustakas from the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Brett Phillips and right-handed pitcher Jorge Lopez.

However, while their overall roster talent is certainly improved, this trade is a pretty questionable move on the surface for the Brewers.

As Jeff Passan’s tweet says, it’s “quite a haul” for Moustakas, who will be a free agent in the winter (after signing for just a 1-year, $6.5 million deal this past winter). Phillips and Lopez are 25-and-under MLB players with upside, and they’re only getting Moustakas for a few months.

“Moose” has big-time power, with 38 homers last year and 20 homers this year. But that’s really the only clear talent he brings to the table. He doesn’t hit for a high average or walk much; he currently has a .309 OBP and has a .306 OBP for his career. He currently has a .778 OPS and 107 wRC+, numbers that rank in the middle of the pack for third baseman.

Corner players that can hit are easy to find, which is why nobody was willing to give Moustakas a sizable contract over the winter. Again, the homers are great and valuable, but the overall offensive value is nothing more than average for a third baseman. It’s why he was only worth 2.1 fWAR in 2017 despite hitting 38 homers.

And this is where it gets even more confusing- Moustakas has been worse the last two years than the guy the Brewers have been playing at third base, Travis Shaw (currently has an .812 OPS and 114 wRC+, and the metrics like his defense more). On paper, they’re upgrading their depth and overall team offense, but downgrading their starting third baseman.

Jun 21, 2018; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw (21) scores after a wild pitch by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez (not pictured) in the third inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

So what does this mean for Shaw? They’re apparently moving him to second base! Or, they’re at least going to try it, and are starting him there on Saturday.

Shaw is listed at 6’4″, 230, and he’s probably actually bigger than that. It’s hard to see his range being good enough to be even halfway decent at the position, and he’s literally never played second base at any level. In his entire life.

Now, with how much teams shift these days, specific “position” is becoming a little less important as Stearns and manager Craig Counsell explained.

So perhaps Shaw can at least be passable there, and their offense is certainly better with Moustakas included.

But arguably the main reason the Brewers have been so good in 2018 is because of elite defensive play. The Brewers have been credited with 83 defensive runs saved (DRS), 13 more than any team in baseball. They’re No. 1 in the majors in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). They’ve basically been the top defense by every major metric. It’s reflected in the pitching staff’s 3.63 ERA (their 4.00 FIP says the ERA should be higher, but the defense is preventing runs from scoring).

Is it really worth getting cute and messing with a terrific defense, all to add a good, not great offensive player? It’s certainly worth wondering, but surely the Brewers’ front office asked themselves such questions over and over before making the trade.

So, it will be interesting to see how all that goes for Milwaukee, and it will be interesting to see what more they do before the July 31 trade deadline (they don’t sound done on that front).

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.

1 thought on “Brewers trade for 3B Mike Moustakas, will play large man Travis Shaw at 2B

  1. You know you are the ONLY nerd who writes a general trade article the used 5 stats no one outsie of some lame ass loser even understands wRC+, fWAR,FIP and UZR. Imean you loser stat geeks need to get a life

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