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The latest Moustakas free-agent rumors

MLB.com

Mike Moustakas has crushed 66 homers the past two seasons -- only Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado and Jose Ramirez have more among players with at least 50 percent of games at third base in that span. That power makes the 30-year-old, who is in his second straight offseason as a free agent, a solid alternative to Machado.

Below you will find the most recent buzz and rumors about the third baseman.

Mike Moustakas has crushed 66 homers the past two seasons -- only Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado and Jose Ramirez have more among players with at least 50 percent of games at third base in that span. That power makes the 30-year-old, who is in his second straight offseason as a free agent, a solid alternative to Machado.

Below you will find the most recent buzz and rumors about the third baseman.

Moustakas' return to Milwaukee has ripple effects
Feb. 17: Mike Moustakas looks to be headed back to the Brewers, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, who reports it will be a one-year contract.

Tweet from @Ken_Rosenthal: Free-agent Mike Moustakas in agreement with #Brewers on a one-year contract, pending a physical, sources tell The Athletic.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand also has confirmed that the deal is for $10 million with a mutual option for 2020.

Tweet from @Feinsand: Source confirms Moustakas deal with Brewers is $10M with a mutual option for 2020. @JonHeyman was first.

Milwaukee acquired Moustakas, 30, at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last summer, and he went on to hit .256/.326/.441 with eight home runs over 54 games while helping the Crew reach the postseason and make it all the way to the National League Championship Series.

With Moustakas back, expect the Brewers to open up the hot corner for him again by shifting Travis Shaw to second base, a position that was somewhat unsettled heading into 2019. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy speculates on what Milwaukee's lineup could look like with Moustakas in place.

Tweet from @AdamMcCalvy: Like I said, here's one potential Brewers lineup: Cain CFYelich RFBraun LFShaw 2BAguilar 1BGrandal CMoustakas 3BArcia SS

Of course, this move also impacts clubs that had been interested in or linked to Moustakas, namely the Angels, Padres, Phillies and White Sox, as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman notes.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Moustakas close to returning to brewers. Said to be about 9M for 1. @Ken_Rosenthal and @JeffPassan 1st. Also had interest from angels or could have possibly waited for a manny runner up (ie padres or chisox).

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Padres remain hopeful to land one of the two big fish (Manny seems more likely, with Harper/Phillies heating up). Chisox plus mystery teams the main competition assuming Phils get their top target.

Is it possible that the Padres, Phillies and White Sox now will focus their attention on Manny Machado, the most prominent third baseman still available on the open market?

Moose reuniting with Hosmer in San Diego could be boon to younger players
Feb. 16: One aspect of the free-agent market that can be overlooked because it applies only to certain teams is the need for veterans to mentor younger players during a club's rebuilding phase. That's definitely the case with the Padres, who signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million contract prior to the 2018 season. MLB.com's Richard Justice thinks San Diego ought to do something similar this year by bringing in Hosmer's former teammate with the Royals, third baseman Mike Moustakas.

The pair helped Kansas City reach back-to-back World Series in 2014 and '15, winning the franchise's first title in 30 years by defeating the Mets in '15. That chemistry could be a valuable asset for the Padres in terms of not only having production from both when the club is ready to contend, but also helping younger players mature as San Diego eyes success in the coming years.

Moustakas began the '18 season with the Royals before being traded to the Brewers in July. He helped Milwaukee reach the National League Championship Series, hitting .256/.326/.441 with eight homers in 54 games down the stretch. Overall, he slashed .251/.315/.459 with 28 homers in 152 games last year, following a big season in which he launched 38 home runs with an .835 OPS.

Halos in on Moose
Feb. 15: For a second straight offseason, Moustakas is unsigned into Spring Training. But he has a new suitor: the Angels.

According to a report Friday from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Halos are now in on Moustakas. That adds one more team to the list of potential landing spots for the third baseman, along with the Brewers, Padres and Phillies.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: #LAAngels are a new (or at least previously unpublicized) team in on Mike Moustakas. Moose is from the LA Valley and has done good work raising $ for fire victims in Cali. Brewers, possibly Padres and Phillies are other possibilities.

Third base has been an issue for the Angels for a while. They signed Zack Cozart last offseason to solidify the position, but he got off to a slow start and then suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder that required season-ending surgery in June.

If Cozart returns to full strength in 2019, there would be some question about how to fit both him and Moustakas in the Angels' lineup. One possibility would be playing Moustakas at third and Cozart at second, where he spent some time last year. They could also use Cozart at third and Moustakas at DH or first base, even though the Angels already have Albert Pujols and Justin Bour at those spots while they await Shohei Ohtani's return. The Halos could also platoon Cozart and Moustakas, with the former a right-handed bat and the latter a lefty.

Is a reunion between Moose and Milwaukee inevitable?
Feb. 9: As the Brewers await the arrival of second-base prospect Keston Hiura (MLB Pipeline's No. 20 overall prospect), the club has an unsettled keystone situation on the big league roster. Could Milwaukee solve that problem by signing … a third baseman?

Mike Moustakas is still available after finishing the 2018 campaign with the Brewers, who traded for the veteran in July and moved Travis Shaw from the hot corner to second base. The Crew could consider taking that route again, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required).

In fact, Rosenthal writes that "a reunion between the Brewers and Moustakas seems inevitable."

Moustakas could be a fallback option for teams eyeing Manny Machado, including the Phillies, White Sox and Padres. But if Machado remains unsigned over the next few weeks, Moustakas may tire of waiting.

That said, signing Moustakas and moving Shaw to second base for the 2019 season would raise some questions for the Brewers, as Rosenthal notes.

Primarily, Shaw's lack of range could become a concern if he is forced to stay at second base for the entire season. Shaw may also be uncomfortable making that move when he has his second year of arbitration eligibility upcoming after the 2019 campaign. Sources tell Rosenthal that the two sides are not discussing a long-term deal, and a poor defensive campaign at second base could hurt Shaw if he is forced to go to an arbitration hearing next offseason.

Meanwhile, the Brewers reportedly added another short-term second-base option to the fold Saturday, agreeing to a Minor League contract with Brett Lawrie. The 29-year-old hasn't played in the Majors since 2016, but he was a first-round Draft pick in '08 and a near-league-average bat (97 OPS+) over '12-16. He initially announced the signing himself via Instagram. According to Robert Murray of The Athletic, Lawrie's deal includes a club option for '20 and could be worth up to $7 million. Lawrie, Cory Spangenberg, Hernan Perez and Tyler Saladino are all in the mix to receive playing time at second until Hiura arrives.

Tweet from @ByRobertMurray: Further context: If Lawrie makes it to the majors in ���19, his salary is $1 million. Performance bonuses in ���19 and escalators in ���20. If the option for ���20 is declined, he would be eligible for free agency. https://t.co/TsmqKQb7Jq

Mike Moustakas