For the second time in the last three years, the Cincinnati Reds have a acquired a left-handed hitting second baseman who most recently played for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The second acquisition generated a bigger splash than the first.
The Reds formally announced on Thursday night the signing of free-agent Mike Moustakas to a four-year, $64 million contract – the largest free-agent deal in franchise history. President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams, general manager Nick Krall, field manager David Bel and agent Scott Boras joined the 31-year-old Moustakas for the announcement at the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati.
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“Obviously, it means a lot to me and my family to be able to support my family for the rest of our lives and the future, but the reason I picked this team and this organization was being on the other side, playing in Milwaukee, I was able to see what these guys had and what they were bringing to the field every single day, and the love and the passion they played with,” Moustakas told reporters. “The pitching staff was incredible. The lineup was incredible. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to make this team a little bit better to help get to the postseason, which is why we all play the game.”
Moustakas hit .254 last season with 35 home runs and 87 RBIs in 143 games for the Brewers. He averaged 34 homers over the past three seasons. He is expected to give a boost to an offense that ranked 12th in the National League in hitting and runs scored while going 75-87 last season. The Reds set a club record with 227 home runs but scored 701 runs – just five more than the previous year.
Moustakas spent the first six seasons of his career playing third base for the Royals, helping them reach the World Series in 2014 and win the championship in 2015. Kansas City traded him to the Brewers July 27, 2018.
“The guy is a winner,” Bell said. “He’s motivated by winning. There’s an edge he brings with that. We are so close, and we have other players and a team full of guys that want to make that happen. To get a guy that has done it before, who has played in the postseason, won championships and is truly motivated by not only becoming the best player he can be, but making guys around him better. He’s going to add so much to our team.”
Moustakas, who grew up playing shortstop, played 47 games at second base last season, including 40 starts. Several players played second base for the Reds last season after projected starter Scooter Gennett, who was claimed off waivers from Milwaukee shortly before the start of the 2017 season, suffered a significant groin injury toward the end of spring training.
“I had a great time over at second base when I was over there,” said Moustakas, wearing a white home jersey with the No. 9, which he picked with the help of his 3-year-old daughter. “It made me feel like I was in the game a little bit more. The flexibility that this roster has, I could be playing anywhere and wherever David plays me, I’ll be ready to go.”
Moustakas will be paid $12 million in 2020, $14 million in 2021, $16 million in 2022 and $18 million in 2023. There is a $20 million mutual option for 2024 with a $4 million buyout. Incentives include $250,000 if he wins an NL Most Valuable Player award, $100,000 for a Gold Glove, $75,000 for a Silver Slugger award and $75,000 for a selection to the All-Star team. He will donate one percent of his salary to the team’s charity.
“We did a lot of work leading up to this transaction,” Williams said. “What was really overwhelming was that, once the deal was announced, the amount of unsolicited feedback that David, Nick and myself that we all got from the players he played with, the coaches he had, the staff he interacted with. Incredibly overwhelming with positive feedback telling us we made the right move. That was really cool.”
The previous franchise-record free-agent contract was closer Francisco Cordero’s four-year, $48 million deal before the 2008 season.
A three-time All-Star – Moustakas’ first appearance in the midsummer event was in 2015 at Great American Ball Park – earned his big payday after settling for one-year contracts in 2018 with Kansas City and last season with Milwaukee.