We’re on the precipice of Opening Day, but there are still some decisions awaiting the front office staff of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Most pressing, if not most important, is how they will construct the 25-man roster to begin the 2014 regular season. In this, they’ve got some options.
Let’s assume a couple of things off the top here. First, a standard 13 hitter, 12 pitcher roster split. Second, that we’re all aware that things will change throughout the season and plenty of the players who don’t make the Opening Day roster will don a Brewers uniform at some point in 2014.
I’ll lay out the different roster groupings and then explain what went into my decisions thereafter. Cool?
With that, to the list!
Starting Pitchers (5)
- Yovani Gallardo
- Kyle Lohse
- Marco Estrada
- Matt Garza
- Wily Peralta
I did my best educated guess at the order here too. It was announced that Gallardo has Opening Day honors and that Lohse will follow in Game 2. It was also hinted that Garza could pitch the opener in Boston, but that isn’t for sure yet…at least not publicly. Couple that with how well Estrada has pitched and he’s the superior choice against Atlanta in Game 3 than is Peralta.
The wrinkle here is that the Brewers have the opportunity to start the season with four starters because of the off-days scheduled. They don’t need a fifth starting pitcher until mid-April. If they do that, Peralta would start with Nashville to stay on rotation.
Relief Pitchers (7)
(with one more starting on DL)
- Jim Henderson
- Francisco Rodriguez
- Will Smith*
- Brandon Kintzler
- Wei-Chung Wang*
- Rob Wooten
- Alfredo Figaro (Alternative: Tyler Thornburg)
- Tom Gorzelanny* (DL)
Henderson is the incumbent closer. Rodriguez was brought in on a MLB deal and has the longest track record out of any of the options. Smith has been great this spring after being acquired in trade. Kintzler was very good last year and has a spot locked up. Wang makes it in part because of how well he’s thrown but also because of the Rule V circumstances. Wooten pitched well enough in his time last year that he gets one of my “open” jobs. He’s certainly in a fungible position, though, as he’s got minor league options remaining.
For the final active spot, I’m going with Alfredo Figaro. I know that Tyler Thornburg is under consideration for that job, but I think that they’ll realize that he’s more valuable staying stretched out at Nashville in order to cover the inevitable first injury to the starting rotation than he is in pitching at best every other day in Milwaukee as the long man. Figaro filled the long relief role admirably last year as his stuff played up out of the bullpen.
Wooten, Figaro, and Thornburg all have at least one minor league option remaining so there’s no real consideration of roster depth when making any decisions concering the three. And I think we’ll be seeing all of them pitch at Miller Park in 2014 at one point or another.
As for non-roster invitee Zach Duke, I think that the Brewers have liked what they’ve seen but with Wang making good (so far), there really isn’t room for Duke to begin the season. The veteran lefty is on a minor-league deal, so most likely he’ll simply be assigned to Nashville to start.
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Martin Maldonado
They’re the only two on the 40-man and that’s because they’re the two best in the organization. Nothing more needs to be said here.
- Mark Reynolds
- Rickie Weeks
- Jean Segura
- Aramis Ramirez
- Juan Francisco** (Alternative: Lyle Overbay)
- Scooter Gennett**
- Jeff Bianchi (Alternative: Elian Herrera)
Reynolds was signed to a minor-league deal for roster considerations at the time. He’s got a job. Weeks is the longest-tenured player in the organization right now and isn’t moveable (yet). Segura and Ramirez are obvious inclusions. Gennett comes along if they go with two second basemen, which has been the hottest talk of late.
Despite all the talk to the contrary lately, I still think that if they must choose between them, Francisco’s potential, relative youth, power, and increased patience this spring outweight Overbay’s veteran savvy, locker room presence, and far superior defense. That said, I can absolutely see a scenario in which they trade Francisco for an asset and keep Overbay. Maybe I’m projecting Francisco simply out of hope.
The other hotly contested job has been the utility infielder role. Jeff Bianchi filled the role last year with middling success. The biggest challenger to Bianchi’s incumbency has been the 40-man rostered Elian Herrera, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the winter. They’ve both hit, they both have defensive versatility. The differences that matter: Bianchi is a better defender at shortstop. Herrera is a much more natural outfielder (which is big when you’ve only got four rostered). Herrera is a switch hitter. Bianchi is out of options; Herrera has one remaining. It is that last point that I think will be the deciding factor. Herrera will start at Nashville and would absolutley be the first man called upon should an injury befall any infielder on the big league roster.
For the record: Should they decide that they can forego two second basemen to start the year to even the roster out a bit a more, I think Herrera make the club over a fifth true outfielder.
- Khris Davis
- Carlos Gomez
- Ryan Braun
- Logan Schafer**
Another easy prediction. Schafer could see some time starting in left field, but as the only man on the projected roster that can backup centerfield, he’ll likely be providing coverage from the bench more often than not.
* - Throws left-handed ** - Bats left-handed ---
So there you have it.
I welcome feedback and want to hear your opinions. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m overlooking an important detail or better player? Look down there…a “Comments” section.
We all know the timeline by now.
The news broke that Matt Garza and the Brewers were nearing agreement on a deal. It was reported that the contract, one for $52 million over four years, was agreed to in principle with physical examination pending.
Then the delays started happening and the Brewers commented publicly about being in negotiations with Garza but denying that a deal was agreed to.
The speculation began whether it could be related to Garza’s injury history and therefore the medical review that pesky physical. Gord Ash inadvertantly added to that conspiracy theory when he declined comment about whether the delay was related to that physical.
Then we thought perhaps the physical was just delayed and Garza hadn’t taken it yet. But then the reports about how he had indeed taken it came out along with assurances that the delay wasn’t medically related.
The only other thing I could think of was that it then had something to do with the contract language so I reached out to a source who confirmed that it was at least part of the situation if it wasn’t all of the snag.
The issue, according to a source, is that the Brewers and Garza are haggling over the distribution of the contract. In other words, how much is paid in which seasons.
They agree on the length and overall value (which they met in the middle on, I’m also told, as the Brewers originally hoped to pay 4yr/$48MM and Garza wanted 4yr/$56MM), but they haven’t yet come to an accord on how the money will be paid out.
Garza is asking for a mostly even average value (which precisely would be $13 million per year) and the Brewers are looking to backload the deal somewhat in order to pay more of it when it’s more affordable. That of course being when the contracts of highly-compensated players like Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez should be off the books.
This hang up in negotiations was described to me as “overcome-able” but deals have also fallen apart over less so nothing is official until the contract is formally announced.
Assuming that this is actually at least part of the issue, I’ll be paying attention to which side “won” though once the year-by-year breakdown of the contract is revealed.
Well this morning just got a whole lot less productive.
I received a message this morning that the Milwaukee Brewers were advancing in their negotiations with a free agent. Amazingly enough, it isn’t a first baseman on a minor-league deal. (Shocking, I know.)
On the contrary, in this case the player in question — again, according to the message from a source — indicated that the Brewers were working on signing a free agent starting pitcher.
I don’t have time to get into Garza’s 2013 or the rest of his career at this point. And his throwing problems when fielding ground balls are well-documented on the interwebs as well.
Here’s a link to his Baseball-Reference page: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/garzama01.shtml
I’ll add details as I have the opportunity to do so.
***UPDATE (12:14 PM CT)***
Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal being negotiated is believed to be 4yr/$52 million.
***UPDATE 2 (12:19 PM CT)***
Rosenthal has confirmed the deal, pending a physical.
First mentioned on Twitter by Joe Polek, a radio personality who blogs about the Baltimore Orioles (among other interests), the Milwaukee Brewers were stepping up their pursuit of a certain free agent first baseman.
It’s a player who once called Baltimore home, which is where I would think Joe’s connection to his knowledgable source springs from.
Much more recently, both Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (and more importantly both MLB Network insiders), picked up on the advancing negotiations.
The player? 30-year-old, and veteran of seven Major League seasons, Mark Reynolds.
Here is Joe Polek’s original tweet…
— Joe Polek (@JoePolek) January 15, 2014
Originally a 16th round draft pick, Reynolds broke into the big leagues back in 2007. He’s got a lot of power…when he hits the ball. That’s not always the easiest thing for Reynolds to do though as he owns four of the top 12 strikeouts seasons in Major League Baseball history, including three of the top six, two of the top three and the single-season record of 223 set in 2009 as an Arizona Diamondback.
Reynolds brings a low batting average, resultant pedestrian on-base percentage, from the right side of the plate…but that power sure is fun from a pure enjoyment standpoint.
(Then again, as Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus reminds us, with everything Reynolds has had to overcome in his career… It’s breathtaking. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19409 )
Most recently, Adam McCalvy says he’s confirmed with a source that Reynolds should be signed as the everyday first baseman for the Brewers.
A good source confirms #Brewers are close to signing Mark Reynolds to be the everyday first baseman. Story coming to the site.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 17, 2014
But, for the sake of discussion, Ken Rosenthal is saying that he’ll have to earn that job as he’s hearing Reynolds will be signing a Minor League deal.
Source: Reynolds agreement with #Brewers, when completed, will be a minor-league deal.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 17, 2014
Word came down from various sources today that the Brewers recently made a handful of signings. No word on the exact day when the contracts were signed, but word first came down about all of them today.
Here’s a quick look at all three players, in alphabetical order by surname.
Brad Mills – LHP – 5’11″, 185lbs
Not the former manager of the Astros, this Brad Mills is a former 4th round draft pick (2007, Toronto) out of the University of Arizona. Mills will be 29 years old by Opening Day and provides another left-handed relief option for manager Ron Roenicke to consider this spring.
Milwaukee will be Mills’ fourth MLB organization (Blue Jays, Angels, Rangers) and his fifth overall after finishing the 2013 season in Japan pitching for the Orix Buffaloes.
And check out this GIF to see what Mills looks like when he pitches, as with Orix last year.
Milan Post – C – 6’0″, 167lbs
(Height/Weight as listed in a November 2012 scouting video when Post was 18 years old)
The news of Post’s signing came as somewhat of a surprise given that Baseball America originally had him signing a pro contract with another MLB club. However, in a post discovered by the sometimes unbelievable (like this morning) Jim Goulart, it translates out to Post having actually signed with Milwaukee.
Post expects to begin the season with the Rookie League Brewers.
Not knowing much about his game, here is the scouting video I referenced above so you can see a little of what he’s got going through drills.
R.J. Seidel – RHP – 6’5″, 225lbs
Seidel, 26, is a native of La Crosse, Wisconsin and the Brewers organization is the only one he’s ever known as a professional.
Originally a 16th round draft pick in 2006 out of La Crosse Central, Seidel’s first season was in 2007. After two full seasons with Double-A Huntsville, he finally reached Triple-A Nashville for the first time last season but was then a minor-league free agent at year’s end.
Seidel has both started and relieved, with almost an exact 50/50 split (171 games, 85 starts), and his results in those games speak to his being an “org guy” more than a likely contributor at the MLB level. Then again, this is the same organization that has given multiple big league starts to guys like Mike Burns. It’s safe to say Seidel can navigate a lineup better than ol’ Burnsy.
The Seidel and Mills news was broken by wunderkind Chris Cotillo. Seidel confirmed the news of his signing to me directly. The Brewers have not publicly confirmed any of the three signings as of this publishing.
I woke up this morning to a text message saying that the Brewers met with the Atlanta Braves last night. Despite the previous talk this off-season about the Braves coveting Kyle Lohse, the part of the conversation I was alerted to dealt with another Brewer. That’s not to say there wasn’t more and differing topics on the table, but I was just told what I was told.
Then, later in the morning the same player was brought up in that the Brewers were discussing him with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The player in question is second baseman Rickie Weeks.
The Braves conversation was just that. The sides talked. No word on whether they made progress toward anything.
The conversation with the Blue Jays, however, got a little more specific. I was told that there was a trade discussion centering around Weeks and 1B Adam Lind. While I worked on corroborating that, a Twitter follower let me know that something similar was discussed on Canadian radio. That seemed to puff up to a three-team deal with Lind still coming to Milwaukee but Weeks heading to Kansas City and Billy Butler moving north of the border.
The Weeks part of that equation does make sense. If you recall the Royals expressed some interest in acquiring Weeks during this past season. Also, Ned Yost still manages in K.C. and we all know his affinity for Weeks.
This afternoon though, I was told that currently nothing is building with Toronto as they are reportedly posting a high asking price. To me that sounds like Toronto wants more than just a straight up swap, whether that be two-way or three.
Still, it’s telling that there would be conversations about the veteran second baseman during the Winter Meetings. It may not lead to a deal before the Brewers report to Maryvale, but as they say: feeding your grass before the snow falls often yields a lush lawn come springtime.
As first reported by Jon Heyman via Twitter, free agent Corey Hart has agreed to sign a contract with the Seattle Mariners for the 2014 season.
A source independently confirmed the agreement, but said that the “Pending Physical” part of the equation isn’t seen as a 100% certainty.
What this means for the Brewers is that they move onto their backup plans which were being put into place over the past couple of days. Those plans include three names we know about.
As I reported Monday night, the Brewers were a finalist to acquire Ike Davis in trade from the New York Mets before the Mets decided to bump up their asking price. With Hart no longer available, you can assume that the Mets won’t be motivated to move off of that demand. However, the Mets would very much like to unload Davis and don’t have a ton of trade partners available to them.
Listed as one of many teams that “checked in” on Logan Morrison, the Brewers were seen as out as recently as last night but this morning I was told (and yes, tweeted first for those that care), that the Brewers were viewing LoMo as the top fallback trade option should Hart spurn their advances. Since he did, that could certainly get things moving again here.
UPDATE: As I was typing, it came down that the Mariners and Marlins agreed on a trade to send Morrison to the Pacific Northwest as well in return for Carter Capps. So, no mo LoMo… (I’ll show myself out.)
As of this morning, Adam McCalvy first reported that given the current state of flux surrounding the Hart situation, the agent for Loney proactively reached out to Melvin. As we all know, Melvin loves it when a player expresses a desire to play in Milwaukee. Watch for this one to take shape especially if Loney can be talked off of his current desire to get a three-year deal.
Here is Brewers general manager Doug Melvin on Monday from Baseball’s Winter Meetings…
…and here is field manager Ron Roenicke from Orlando as well.
A source just messaged me to say that free agent Corey Hart and the Milwaukee Brewers have been “actively working” toward a contract agreement pretty much all day. This is a deal that is being “hammered out” still, but that both sides appear “motivated” to get it done.
As I’ve said numerous times cross-platform, this would solve the biggest single need for the Brewers with a player they know and are comfortable with, both in terms of clubhouse fit and on-field production. Hart took back to first base like a metaphor in which something was away from something else for a while but then went back to it in a seamless and easy transition.
Could things still fall apart? Until the physical is passed and the contract is signed, anything is possible. But this would be a continued relationship that makes sense on both sides of the table.
As there is still some back and forth here, I don’t have any contract specifics to provide at this time. I’ll update if I hear something though. I had previously reported that the Brewers were preparing to offer a one-year deal having a low-base salary with heavy incentives. There are no indications yet from my source as to where current negotiations are at other than that they’re still fluid at last check.
The 2013 edition of Baseball’s Winter Meetings, at least as they pertain to the Brewers which is why you’re reading, got underway with a flurry of news and notes but no signings.
Here’s your Day 1 recap:
The day began with word that Corey Hart’s agent would be meeting with the Brewers contingent later in the day, and that the Brewers were making a resolution with Hart a “priority.”
Adam McCalvy then chimed in that the Brewers touched base with the Mets about their available first basemen as well, phrasing the communications with the Mets and with Hart’s agent as “groundwork.”
Bad news then came down the pipeline late afternoon. It was confirmed that Brewers LHP Tom Gorzelanny had undergone shoulder surgery. It was considered relatively minor (in the grand scheme of things) with the expectation that Gorzelanny would be pitching again by mid-March. Gorzelanny’s shoulder cost him the end of his 2013 season and further proved, in my opinion, that he shouldn’t have been put back into the rotation last year.
Brewers brass then confirmed that they had met with Hart’s agent and that the two sides had agreed to touch base again during the Winter Meetings. It was suggested that the Brewers would get a chance to react to other offers Hart receives.
I speculated leading up to the Winter Meetings when the Brewers were tied to a handful of other first baseman options at least as a backup plan to if not leverage against Hart. To that end, Hank Schulman (who covers the San Francisco Giants) tweeted that Milwaukee had checked in with San Fran about the availability of 1B Brett Pill.
But, despite all of that, the Brewers aren’t only in Orlando looking to settle one position. General manager Doug Melvin has also made no secret about his desire to add a reliever with “closing experience” to field manager Ron Roenicke’s bullpen. To that, Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted that the Brewers had talked to Carlos Marmol. Nothing imminent, but still
Amongst all of the rest of the newsworthy items was the Logan Morrison situation. That’s the one where the Marlins have said that they’ll be trading him soon but multiple teams denied being close to acquiring him. For what it’s worth, the Brewers have been connected there as a “it makes sense” destination by a handful of scribes.
And finally, my personal contribution to the rumor mill last night about where that “groundwork” may have the Brewers positioned come Tuesday morning, can be read right here: Hot Stove: Pushing The Issue
So there you have it. Day 1 of the 2013 Winter Meetings in a nutshell.
(*Apologies for the lateness of this. I got my rumor last night and only ended up with time to write up the one post. I’ll add in tweets later to fill out this recap, but the info is at least all here.)