The winter meetings have now come and gone, and the Milwaukee Brewers have not made any truly significant free agent signings or trades.
There are still a lot of rumors swirling around. But as of now, the Milwaukee Brewers remain almost entirely the team they were last season. Many fans want the Brewers to make an impact deal, but what would the outlook of the team be if they didn’t?
The outlook of the Brewers would not be the same as last season due to the amount of young talent the Crew have in their organization. The most prevalent of which being Lewis Brinson, the Brewers #1 prospect. He will likely have a much bigger role on the big league club this season. That includes competing for a starting spot in the outfield.
However, a big part of trade talks this off season involved Keon Broxton. With Broxton gone, Brinson would definetly have at least a share of center field. Splitting time with fellow young outfielder Brett Phillips. However, if none of the outfielders are traded, then it gets to be a more interesting outfield debate.
Another big position in question for Milwaukee is second base. Neil Walker was a great second baseman pickup at the trade deadline, but if he might not be coming back. They already have re-signed Eric Sogard. And they still have Jonathan Villar, so they have experienced options.But neither of those are ideal everyday starters.
One option could be to bring up someone from the minor leagues, the best of which would be Mauricio Dubon. He is a very talented prospect with a lot of speed, he can get a lot of hit. That makes him a perfect fit at either the very top, or very bottom of the Brewers lineup. There is also the option of Isan Diaz, but Dubon seems to have more upside at this point in time.
Finally, there would be multiple questions involving the pitching staff as a whole. First off, the bullpen, where the Brewers have already lost Anthony Swarzak in free agency. There needs to be a pitcher to fill his spot, and it will be very tough to fill the production he gave down the stretch of the season.
As far as the rotation, the biggest question is who will fill Jimmy Nelson’s spot while he is down for the first few months. Again, filling his void will be tough. But there are better internal options for that spot than there are for the bullpen. Chase Anderson, Brandon Woodruff and Zach Davies are rotation locks. Then the last two spots can be filled by Brent Suter, Junior Guerra, and the up and coming pitchers from the minors such as Corbin Burnes, Luis Ortiz and others.
The Hader Dilemma
Amongst both the bullpen and rotation, the biggest question will be what happens with Josh Hader. The young lefty pitched brilliantly out of the bullpen last season for the Brewers. The expectation all along has been that he will be a starter. However, wherever Hader ends up, it will have a big impact on the other side as well.
If Hader is assigned to the rotation, you’re taking away another key cog to a bullpen that already lost its 8th inning guy. If you keep He in the bullpen, you have two very shaky spots in the rotation while Nelson is out. And could make Hader upset due to the expectation of becoming a starter, as he was in the minors.
Nobody knows how Hader would translate from his high pressure bullpen role to being a starter in the major leagues, and he has plenty to work on to make that adjustment, but starting isn’t something that would be new to him. Especially while Nelson is down, Hader would be a huge addition to the rotation, and this could be the beginning of a great career as a starter.
The Brewers have remained quiet so far this off season, and given all the shaky parts of this roster, that probably isn’t the best thing. However, this team doesn’t necessarily need a big signing or trade to be able to win this season, it simply needs good managing, and good decision making in order to give the best players in the organization the playing time they deserve.