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Royals trade Mike Moustakas to the Brewers for Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez

The Royals get two nice pieces for two months of Moustakas.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers-Media Day Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals have acquired outfielder Brett Phillips and pitcher Jorge Lopez from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to reporter Jeffrey Flanagan. The Royals were long rumored to be shopping Moustakas, who is likely a free agent at the end of the season.

The 24-year-old Phillips was ranked the 80th-best prospect by Baseball America before this season. The left-handed hitter has some Major League experience, getting into 37 games last year and another 15 this year. He is a .257/.331/.413 hitter in 122 major-league plate appearances. Phillips was originally a sixth-round pick by the Astros in 2012 out of Seminole High School in Florida. He was traded to the Brewers at the 2015 deadline as part of a package for outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Fiers.

Phillips was hitting .240/.331/.411 with six home runs and 11 steals in 71 games at AAA this year. He put up much better numbers there last year, hitting .305/.377/.567 with 19 home runs in 105 games. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the tenth-best prospect in the Brewers organization, likely owing to a disappointing season this year. In their scouting report, they wrote:

His power has played at every level in his career, and there’s enough raw power and patience to project for average power as a Major Leaguer. Phillips’ above-average speed makes him a threat on the basepaths, and he’s worked hard to improve his basestealing technique and reads.

Phillips can play center field and has a plus arm that should make him a defensive asset. He has the ability to draw walks with 10.5% rate in the minors. With 15-20 home run power, good speed and defense, and solid plate discipline, he seems to offer a bit of everything, although some question whether his ceiling will be very high. He also has a plus-plus laugh.

Jorge Lopez is a 25-year-old right-hander who has pitched in parts of three seasons for the Brewers. Born in Puerto Rico, Lopez was originally a second-round pick by Milwaukee in 2011 and made his MLB debut in 2015. In 31 23 innings at the big-league level, he has a 3.69 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 19 walks. He made 10 appearances with the Brewers this year with a 2.75 ERA but 13 walks in 19 23 innings. He was a Top 100 prospect before the 2016 season, but some disappointing seasons since have lessened his prospect status. He was ranked a “C+” prospect by John Sickels before the year. Sickels writes he has been an inconsistent performer, but “he’s always had a fine arm and hit 97 in relief, both curveball and change-up can be quite good although usually not in the same game.”

Mike Moustakas was hitting .249/.309/.468 with 20 home runs in 98 games. Presumably the Brewers will move Travis Shaw from third to second base, as they look to upgrade their offense, though Mike Moustakas has indicated a willingness to try things out at second should Craig Counsell need him there. Moustakas re-signed with the Royals on a one-year, $6.5 million deal with incentives and a mutual option for next year that will likely be declined by Moustakas, with a $1 million buyout.

The value of rentals is declining, but the Royals seemed to do pretty well here, getting two young players with good skills who are Major League-ready. Phillips has very good defense and some pop that the Royals can work with, and Lopez seems like a live enough arm that could be useful in the bullpen if starting doesn’t work out. The Royals had to move Moustakas or risk getting nothing for him, and Dayton Moore seemed to do well in getting some value for a player who has been slumping much of this summer.


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