PHOENIX -- For the second straight offseason, free agency did not go according to plan for Mike Moustakas. But there are worse things than signing for $10 million, as he did with Milwaukee on a one-year deal on Tuesday, and Moustakas was happy to join the Brewers in time for
PHOENIX -- For the second straight offseason, free agency did not go according to plan for Mike Moustakas. But there are worse things than signing for $10 million, as he did with Milwaukee on a one-year deal on Tuesday, and Moustakas was happy to join the Brewers in time for their first full-squad workout.
"Once I talked to [agent] Scott [Boras] and he said, 'This is what we've got,' I was in my car driving up here, ready to come to work," said Moustakas, who passed his physical on Tuesday morning and signed a contract that includes a mutual option for 2020. "This is what I live for, this is why I play this game -- to come out here and hang out with these guys and go win a championship.
"I can't wait to get back on the field and start doing that again."
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Moustakas will earn $7 million in 2019, according to USA TODAY. The mutual option would pay him $11 million and has a $3 million buyout.
• Moustakas back with Crew on 1-year deal
Moustakas will spend much of his time on the field this spring at second base, a new position for him. He was a shortstop growing up in Southern California, though, and noted that he's spent plenty of time on that side of the infield in recent years as the Royals and Brewers expanded their use of infield shifts. Moustakas and Travis Shaw will both see time at second base in camp, according to manager Craig Counsell, who cautioned against assuming that a decision on the alignment had already been made. Shaw grades out as the superior defender at third base.
The Brewers will make a decision and stick with it, but they will do so only after seeing how Moustakas looks turning double plays and handling other middle-infield duties.
"[Moustakas] came up as a shortstop, played a lot of shortstop as an amateur and was a very good shortstop," said Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns. "In the limited exposure we had with him over there, whether it was in the shift or just taking ground balls when we first acquired him, his feet worked very well around the bag. We believe he can handle it. We know Travis can handle it. They're both very quality third basemen, so we think we have some good options. We'll let it play out over the course of spring."
In Counsell, who played all over the infield during his Major League career, Moustakas has a good mentor.
"It's not [always] positional challenges like that, but these guys respond to challenges, period," the Brewers manager said. "I think it's exciting. It's a little scary, but that's what they like, too. It puts them out on a ledge a little bit, and it makes you really perform."
"Play smooth, not quick," he said. "When you get to a new place and you're uncomfortable, you tend to rush. That's the first thing you do is you rush. And when you rush, there's mistakes. 'Smooth, not quick' is the pace that we will try to keep playing. But there's challenges for it. You put your back to a runner coming at you, that's one of the biggest challenges. That's the biggest thing we'll be spending the most time on."
Shaw said the same last season, when he moved to second base after the Brewers picked up Moustakas' bat in a trade with the Royals. But Shaw took to second base rather smoothly.
"We'll see once I get into Spring Training and some games," Moustakas said. "I feel comfortable over there right now, so we'll see how it happens."
This marks Moustakas' first Spring Training away from Royals camp, but the situation feels somewhat familiar. In 2014, Kansas City reached the World Series but lost to the Giants, then fought back to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets.
Last year, Milwaukee fell in seven games in the National League Championship Series to the Dodgers last year, and the Brewers know it will be a challenge to get that far again.
"I think we had some unfinished business after last year," Moustakas said. "This is a great place to play baseball. I've got a bunch of friends on this team, it's a great city, they love the Brewers. I loved playing here last year. It was a lot of fun. We fell a little bit short, obviously, but I feel like this team can get back to where we were at last year and make a push for the World Series."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.