Milwaukee Brewers’ Depth Chart Uncertainty
The Milwaukee Brewers made quite a few move early in the offseason, leaving the team with some extra players.
The Milwaukee Brewers have made a flurry of moves this off-season, bringing in more Major League players than they’ve lost.
There are redundant players now on the roster, yet the Brewers have stayed relatively quiet on the subject lately. So let’s dive into some of the most crowded areas of the depth chart.
There’s been a fair amount of talk about the Brewers backstops lately. The Crew sent Martin Maldonado to the Angels earlier this month, in a trade that netted the Brewers another catcher, Jett Bandy.
The move was a reasonable one for the Crew, who got younger and cheaper at the position without losing out on much potential. But the crowded catching position has remained.
Currently, the team has Bandy, presumed starter Andrew Susac, and Manny Piña all at the position. It goes without saying that the team will not retain all three at the Major League level.
As a longtime minor league journeyman, the odd man out appears to be Piña. Still, his recent offensive improvements shouldn’t be ignored.
Despite a modest .715 career minor league OPS, Piña has been a solid hitter over his last two MiLB seasons.
Between the Tigers and Brewers’ AAA teams in 2015 and ’16, Piña posted 554 plate appearances, which adds up to about a season’s worth of work.
Over that time, Piña hit 40 doubles, 12 homers, and slashed .316/.375/.483 for a 138 wRC+. And while a .348 BABIP cant be ignored, the 29-year-old catcher has shown enough extra-base pop to warrant a second look.
In a small 81 PA sample with the Brewers, Piña slashed .254/.346/.394. Additionally, Piña has a positive defensive reputation. Baseball America rated him the top defensive catcher in the Royals farm system in 2011 and 2012.
While Milwaukee is clearly rebuilding, they still don’t seem to have a spot for a player like Piña. Being three years younger, Bandy is a more logical backup catcher, and the organization likely wants to commit to playing Susac as often as possible.
The Crew could trade Piña to a team in need of a backup catcher, and who are intrigued by his recent offensive improvements.
Interestingly, Piña is currently listed as the starting catcher on the team’s official depth chart. The organization hasn’t yet publicly committed to a starter, so I would guess Piña gets the nod simply because he has the most Big League experience with the Crew.
Speaking of the Brewers official depth chart, Matt Garza is currently listed as the team’s number six starter. Prior to Spring Training, listing more than five pitchers in the rotation is common.
For the Brewers, however, one of those “odd men out” is their highest paid pitcher. Garza is set to make $12.5 million in 2017, so it’s hard to imagine him pitching out of the bullpen.
Unfortunately for Garza, the rest of the rotation seems pretty set. Junior Guerra and Zach Davies are clear starters. Jimmy Nelson has big potential, and Wily Peralta ended the year exceptionally. Chase Anderson was just serviceable in 2016, but is four years younger than Garza and is under contract through 2021.
Once again, the answer must be a trade. If the Brewers want to dump Garza, they will certainly have to send some prospects along in the deal, to offset his pricey contract.
What seems more likely is the Brewers trading Guerra and allowing Garza back into the rotation for his final year in Milwaukee.
Second base depth isn’t actually up for debate, really. Jonathan Villar is the starter, and Scooter Gennett is on the bench. The problem is, Gennett is a pretty illogical bench player. He plays just one defensive position, and can only hit right-handed pitching.
Additionally, Hernán Pérez excellently fills the super-utility position Gennett is ill-equipped for. Look for Gennett to be traded this off-season simply because he has become a bad fit in Milwaukee.
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