Reds' Mike Moustakas locks in long-term 2B fantasy eligibility

Mike Moustakas brings his powerful bat and, almost as importantly, his second baseman's glove, to the Cincinnati Reds for the foreseeable future. Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire

Remember that grand Mike Moustakas-to-second base experiment, announced by the Brewers seemingly minutes after he re-signed with them last February, and which lasted for roughly half the 2019 season?

Lock the position in as Moustakas' permanent home, now that he has signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Reds, who already have a home run-mashing star manning the hot corner in Eugenio Suarez.

Moustakas' second base eligibility had already been locked in for 2020 thanks to his 47 appearances there last season, but the position change has long-term ramifications in leagues that either re-set their positions during the year or for those who are considering long-term contracts in dynasty/keeper leagues. He has, after all, belted 101 home runs the past three seasons combined, which is 10 more than any other player who has carried a second base eligibility in at least one of those individual years. He's also driven in 267 runs, 12 off the lead amongst that same group.

In Cincinnati, Moustakas' skills fit his home park even better than they did in Milwaukee. Great American Ball Park had a more favorable home run factor in each of the past three seasons than Miller Park, and was especially so for left-handed hitters, an important distinction considering 77 of those aforementioned 101 homers were pulled, 35 of which were hit almost directly down the line. There's a real chance that, regardless of the makeup of the baseball, Moustakas could reach 40 home runs for the first time in his career in 2020, and certainly he's a strong bet to repeat 35. That assumes, of course, that the hand injuries that slowed him late last year are behind him.

Drop Moustakas into a Reds lineup that should now go Nick Senzel-Joey Votto-Suarez-Moustakas-Aristides Aquino, and not only should Moustakas at least repeat his three-year averages of 89 RBIs and 74 runs scored, but the team could sport a top-10 offense that would help him improve upon either number. He's not a slam-dunk top 10 fantasy second baseman -- I have him 12th -- but warrants a "just-missed" label.

The impact of Moustakas' second base assignment is a more debatable angle, one with a bearing upon the team's very-relevant pitching staff that includes Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer in its rotation and Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen in the bullpen. Moustakas' defense in his 359 2/3 innings at second wasn't poor -- he had zero Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-0.1 Ultimate Zone Rating per FanGraphs -- and he probably benefited from the Brewers' extreme shifting. The Brewers shifted 34.1% of the time last season, and 55.0% against left-handed hitters, which presumably helped mask some of the limits of his range.

The Reds, meanwhile, shifted 27.0% of the time, and 49.4% against lefties, not a far cry from the Brewers' usage and a hint that they're similarly unconcerned about Moustakas' new position. Still, going from Jose Iglesias to Freddy Galvis at shortstop, coupled with the Moustakas move, does downgrade the Reds' infield defense slightly. Keep that tucked away when considering making especially aggressive pushes for Castillo or Gray, both of whom got ground balls more than half the time in 2019.