After the departure of Tyler Thornburg via trade, Milwaukee desperately needs help in the bullpen. The Brewers’ best option for filling this need is the free agent market.
Francisco Rodriguez. Jeremy Jeffress. Will Smith. And now Tyler Thornburg. The list of Brewers’ relievers flipped for prospects in the last two years continues to grow. Lacking strong options on the current roster, Milwaukee must look to free agency for relievers to lock down the eighth and ninth innings.
Here are the best fits for Milwaukee:
Brad Ziegler: (37, Red Sox, RHP)
The addition of Thornburg for the Red Sox likely makes Ziegler expendable in the eyes of Dave Dombrowski. Ziegler is a side-arming righty who has had success the past two years in Arizona and Boston with a 2.05 ERA over 136 total innings. Although he doesn’t strike batters out at a very high rate, the big right-hander makes up for it with an outstanding groundball rate – second in the Majors over the last two seasons. Ziegler would fit in nicely as the setup man in Milwaukee. He is likely going to command a reasonable two-year deal somewhere in the $14-16 million range.
Neftali Feliz: (28, Pirates, RHP)
Feliz struggled in 2015 for the Tigers after an extremely productive start to his career in Texas. In his one year with the Pirates he returned somewhat to his pre-Detroit form. The hard-throwing righty from the Dominican Republic put up an eye-catching 10.23 K/9 rate in 53.2 innings in 2016. Widely regarded as the top setup arm left on the market, Feliz will likely receive offers in the vicinity of $20 million over 3 years. In the past, Feliz has found success as a closer (40 saves in 2010 for TEX) so he could also be a possible option for the closer role in Milwaukee.
Sergio Romo: (33, Giants, RHP)
Romo has been a mainstay in the Giants’ bullpen for years but the recent signing of closer Mark Melancon leaves Romo without a job. Romo missed a significant chunk of the 2016 season with a flexor strain in April. Back to full health now, Romo is ready to step into the closer role for a new team. Even though he throws one of the slowest fastballs among relievers (85.8 mph on average), Romo is still extremely effective. For his career, he has a tremendous 10.19 K/9 rate and a strong 1.82 BB/9 rate. Romo is likely to command deals in the two-year, $14 million range. At that price he would be a great fit for the Crew in the closer role.