The Cincinnati Reds are coming for the top of the National League Central.
Reports surfaced Monday afternoon the Reds had inked free agent infielder Mike Moustakas to a four-year deal, adding an impact bat to the middle of the lineup, per ESPN's Jeff Passan:
BREAKING: Third baseman Mike Moustakas and the Cincinnati Reds are in agreement on a four-year deal, league sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 2, 2019
Moustakas would play second base with the Reds, as The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 2, 2019
The 31-year-old left-handed-hitting Moustakas crushed 35 homers and drove in 87 runs for the Brewers a season ago in only 143 games. It was his third straight season with at least 28 homers and 85 RBI and it also marked the first time he played second base in the big leagues. Since 2015, he's made three All-Star teams and has an .817 OPS.
The move weakens the Brewers as it ensures he won't be going back to Milwaukee, but it absolutely strengthens the Reds. Cincinnati entered the winter as a darkhorse candidate to win the 2020 NL Central on the strength of their strong pitching staff, but they needed to make a splash to add some more offense.
There's certainly a concern with playing Moustakas at second base full-time after only 47 career games at the position, but he's a dynamic hitter in the prime of his career and will be a huge addition to the lineup behind underrated star Eugenio Suarez (49 HR, 103 RBI in 2019).
If Joey Votto can return to form after a down season, the Reds are in business. But even if age has caught up to Votto, his on-base skills (.357 OBP last year) would play well atop the order and Cincinnati also has an exciting group of up-and-comers in the outfield - Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel and Aristedes Aquino.
Add that to a pitching staff that currently ranks among the best in the NL and it's suddenly a four-team race in the division. A rotation headed by Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer and a bullpen featuring Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and others and the Reds figure to be in an awful lot of games. They only needed some more offense.
After what the Reds gave up in the Bauer trade at the deadline last summer, it was clear they were gunning for a playoff spot in 2020. With the Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals all looking like they're in tough spots financially this winter, maybe it's time to start looking at the Reds as a potential favorite for the division.
The Cubs, meanwhile, have yet to make an impactful move this winter after an 84-win campaign.
The Cardinals made it to the NLCS last season and return a lot of the same roster, the Brewers rode another September surge into the NL Wild-Card game and get MVP Christian Yelich back from injury and now the Reds are retooled and ready for a playoff push. Things are certainly not going to be easy for first-year manager David Ross and the Cubs in 2020.
The Reds send a strong message with Moustakas signing originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago