The Milwaukee Brewers have decided to address their middle infield weakness with a third baseman.
Milwaukee was reportedly considering acquiring a third baseman and shifting regular third baseman Travis Shaw to second base. It appears they will do exactly that with Moustakas on board. Shaw has never played second base as a professional, either in the majors or minors, though the Brewers have had him work out at the position in recent weeks in preparation for a potential move.
Moustakas, 29, is hitting .249/.309/.468 with 21 doubles and 20 home runs in 98 games this season. He'll reunite with former Royals teammate Lorenzo Cain in Milwaukee. Assuming Moustakas takes over at third base and Shaw indeed slides over to second base, the Brew Crew can run out a starting lineup that looks something like this:
- CF Lorenzo Cain
- RF Christian Yelich
- 1B Jesus Aguilar
- 2B Travis Shaw
- LF Ryan Braun
- 3B Mike Moustakas
- C Erik Kratz/Manny Pina
- SS Orlando Arcia
There is a lot of moving parts there. Eric Thames is on the bench and will continue to see regular playing time in the outfield. Braun has spent some time at first base this season and Tyler Saladino has gotten regular reps at shortstop. That's a basic framework of a lineup. Manager Craig Counsel certainly has plenty of options.
As for the Royals, they picked up two young players with upside who can step right into their MLB roster. Phillips was capital-B Blocked with the Brewers given all their outfielders and was a prime piece of trade bait. The 24-year-old is hitting .240/.331/.411 with six home runs and 11 steals in Triple-A this season, which is down relative to his career norms. He is capable center fielder with a chance to be a power/speed threat. MLB.com ranked Phillips as Milwaukee's No. 10 prospect before the trade.
Lopez, 25, has been an up-and-down arm with the Brewers since 2015 and he's been unable to carve out a role with the team. This season he's allowed six runs with 15 strikeouts and 13 walks in 19 2/3 big-league innings, and down in Triple-A he has a 5.65 ERA in 28 2/3 relief innings. The pitching needy Royals figure to give both Lopez and Phillips an extended run on their roster the rest of the season.
The Brewers are 60-46 and 1 1/2 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central. They're also three games up on a wild-card spot. Now that they've addressed their bullpen with the acquisition of Joakim Soria, Milwaukee figures to look for a starting pitcher next before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline.