Chicago Cubs face a tough task in suddenly tough Cincinnati Reds

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Jumping from one division rival to the other, infielder Mike Moustakas could continue to be a thorn in the Chicago Cubs side for years to come.

Free agent infielder Mike Moustakas signed a four-year, $64 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds to kick off the week. The Reds are planning to play Moustakas at second base, filling the void left by the recently non-tendered Jose Peraza. So the former World Series champion will see plenty of the Cubs in 2020, joining another of Chicago’s NL Central rivals.

Moustakas, also known as Moose, began his big league career with the Kansas City Royals in 2011, and played there until 2017. In 2017, Moustakas rejected a $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Royals, but returned to the team on a one-year contract. This contact included a $5.5 million salary and $1 million option buyout.

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Throughout his time with the Royals, Moose was a key player that helped the team reach the World Series twice, including when the team won the championship in 2015 against the New York Mets.

Due to that World Series run, the 31-year-old infielder gained experience valuable postseason experience. When Moustakas returned to the Royals on his one-year contract, he ended up being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in July 2018. Down the stretch, Moustakas hit .256/.326/.441 with 33 RBI and eight homers.

In 2019, Moustakas continued to play with the Brewers. Over the course of the 2019 season, he slashed .254/.329/.516 with 35 home runs and 87 RBI. The infielder earned his third All-Star selection and played both second and third base as the season progressed. Throughout his time in Milwaukee, he proved invaluable as the club punched two consecutive postseason tickets.

Without reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich, Moustakas and other sluggers led the Brewers to a short but existent playoff run as the team reached the 2019 NL Wild Card game. However, the Brewers lost that matchup to the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals.

So what does this mean for the Cubs?

Moustakas adds much-needed pop to a Cincinnati lineup that ranked 12th among NL clubs in runs scored and OPS last year. With a rotation featuring the likes of Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer, Sonny Gray and Anthony DeSclafani already locked up for 2020, this team has all the makings of a dark horse contender in a loaded division race.

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With the veteran slugger moving from the Brewers to the Reds, he’ll get his share of matchups against familiar foes. In his career against Chicago, Moustakas carries a meager .537 OPS in a fairly small 95 plate appearance sample size. At the Friendly Confines, though, he’s a career .298 hitter. It’ll be interesting to see how this move plays out in years to come.