Mat Gamel Mat Gamel

Milwaukee Brewers First Base Options: Free Agency


Yesterday, while I was busy not paying full attention to the severity of Mat Gamel‘s injury, Mat Gamel’s injury got way worse.

So bad, in fact, that Gamel will not be playing baseball in 2013.

So much for that steep hill. In the meantime, however, the Milwaukee Brewers are going to have to find a replacement for Spring Training and for the first month or so (depending on how quick Corey Hart believes he can get back) of the regular season.

We’ll start off by seeing what Milwaukee can do by wading in the free agency market.

And shallow indeed are the waters of free agency. There are options, of course, should Milwaukee look to sign a short-term deal for a quick fix at first base. None of those options are particularly attractive on their face – but then again scrambling to solve a solution caused by injury never is, but that’s a different discussion.

Carlos Lee undoubtedly wants to play baseball in 2013: would it be wise or affordable for Milwaukee to let him do it here? (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

If the Brewers plan on signing a player now, there are a few options and some familiar faces among those veterans left unsigned. One of the most notable would be Carlos Lee. El Caballo spent last year with the re-tooled and recently dismantled Miami Marlins as well as the Houston Astros. So there’s no question that Lee may be itching to jump on a team with a little more momentum. He still has some pop in his bat, and despite his advanced age can be quite dependable. The problem for the Brewers in welcoming Lee back with open arms is that those arms would likely need to be filled with cash.

Sure, he’s not a household name anymore – but it’s still nice to feel wanted.

Aubrey Huff, the 36 year old veteran with 13 seasons of Major League experience also finds himself without a job. That’s hard luck for a guy with a career .278 batting average and a World Series ring, but such is life in the Major Leagues. He would represent a chance for Milwaukee to pick up a veteran with experience, but like Lee he would likely have pockets too deep for Milwaukee to fill.

So, it should be obvious that a quick signing in free agency is out of the question and feasibility for the Milwaukee Brewers. Besides that, it would generally represent too high a cost weighed against too short a benefit for the team.

The next logical step would be to wait out the market for a little bit, using our Non-Roster Invitees and bench players to fill the gap while a player shows himself to be available. The following players maybe be easier to pick up later in Spring Training should a clear candidate not arise from within the organization.

Mike Carp is another name being thrown around, as the Seattle Mariners designated the 26 year-old for assignment and seem all but eager to move him. He’s cheap, used to playing in a limited role, and suddenly finds himself being courted by Major League clubs in need of another arm body in Spring Training camp. At the time of this writing, the Brewers are not one of those suitors. That may change quickly as younger players are more affordable and easier to move when the time comes to shift gears.

Brandon Snyder is another name that Milwaukee may kick around in the coming weeks, he’s an NRI with the Rangers right now and is one of the top names on MLB Trade Rumors Free Agent Tracker. He spent 40 games in the Show with Texas last season where he went .277/.309/.446 with three homers. Admittedly, snatching up the 26 year-old would be a long shot for the Crew, but youth and potential shout down my better angels on this one, and Snyder becomes my one injection of the type of player I’d like to see the organization go after as opposed to a likely option.

In actual likely options for Milwaukee, two former Brewers once again

Ishikawa may be back in the Brewers Blue in 2013 – but that remains to be seen at this point. (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

re-emerge. Lyle Overbay – currently showing his stuff as a Non-roster Invitee for the Boston Red Sox will likely draw overtures from the Milwaukee Brewers again as Spring Training draws closer towards Opening Day and Boston has a better idea of where the Big O fits in their long-term plans. Overbay drew attention from a number of clubs in the early part of the month including Milwaukee.

Travis Ishikawa is another name that people in the know are throwing about. Ishikawa performed admirably as a fill-in for the Brewers in 2012, hitting .257 in 94 games. Travis is trying to find room on a Baltimore Roster currently, but he would likely have a hard time keeping a place. In that case, the Brewers would be in a good position to bring him back in a way that’s useful, affordable, and potentially beneficial for both the Brewers and Ishikawa.

At this point, all we have is speculation, Rosenthal’s wild goose chase, and the best guesses of writers, columnists, and fans. This is what happens when your team falls far short of preparedness in terms of health and depth. We don’t know what the plan is – and maybe that’s the hardest part about all of this.

Catch up with us later to review the in-house options for our newest roster hole.