The Milwaukee Brewers and the rest of MLB are stuck in a rut of inactivity this off-season. No free agents have signed and no major trades have gone through. But today, the Brewers did make a roster move.
The Brewers claimed Dylan Baker off waivers from the Cleveland Indians. Baker is a 25 year old right hander who has yet to reach the major leagues. He was designated for assignment last week and now joins the Crew’s 40 man roster.
Baker hasn’t pitched much lately after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015 and missed all of the 2016 season. He suffered through setbacks in his recovery. The righty will require two more procedures before finally returning to action later in 2017. He only threw 16 innings this season and finished with a 2.70 ERA in 17 games out of the bullpen. Most of those innings were in Double-A for the Indians and Baker now joins a new organization.
The Milwaukee Brewers like Baker because of his velocity. He could be a powerful arm down the road but his roster flexibility is what really attracted the Brewers. Baker was a Rule 5 draft casualty in Cleveland. The Indians had to remove him from the 40 man roster in Cleveland so they could protect more of their high level prospects.
It would make sense for the Brewers to use one of the minor league options Baker has sooner rather than later. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see Milwaukee try to push him through waivers again to outright him to the minor leagues and off the 40 man roster.
Right now the roster is at capacity and Baker is the lowest on the depth chart. If the Brewers want to add a player in the Rule 5 draft, or sign a free agent they need to make room.
Baker still hasn’t pitched at the Triple-A level and has only thrown 21 innings over the last three years. It’s a stretch for him to make the roster coming out of Spring Training. David Stearns is most likely hoping to pass him through waivers and this time without a claim. If so, he stays in the organization and Stearns adds good talent for nothing in return.
Most GMs attempt this every offseason. They claim someone on waivers to put on the 40 man roster. The organization tries to sneak them through waivers again and send them to the minors. Baker is a good candidate for that process. But with the roster at capacity the Milwaukee Brewers are not done making roster moves this winter. Baker will be the name to push off the roster when a move presents itself.
Baker is a former 5th round pick. He issued no walks against the 72 batters who came to the plate against him. He could be an important claim down the road for Milwaukee. But it only works if he can be successfully removed from the 40 man roster and kept in the organization.