The Milwaukee Brewers have a number of players up for arbitration this offseason and one player they should consider bringing back for the 2019 year is left-handed relief pitcher, Xavier Cedeno.
Throughout the 2018 season, the clear strength of this Milwaukee Brewers team was their bullpen. GM David Stearns will look to continue improving it during the off season.
Although Milwaukee will have a number of options in their bullpen to choose from in 2019, at this time they do not have another reliable left-hander other than Josh Hader. This is an area that must be addressed.
In 2018, the Milwaukee Brewers primarily used Dan Jennings in the role of left-handed specialist until they acquired Xavier Cedeno on August 31st. As a Brewer and overall last season, Cedeno pitched well and made a case for himself that he should be brought back.
Cedeno in 2018
Cedeno began the season with the Chicago White Sox where he was able to remain healthy and put together a solid season before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Overall, Cedeno posted a 2.43 ERA in 33 1/3 innings pitched, with a WHIP of 1.26, and recorded 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
As a Milwaukee Brewer, Cedeno had a big impact in the amazing September run to the divisional title and post season.
Cedeno appeared in 15 games during September and covered eight innings. During that time he recorded an ERA of 1.13, a WHIP of 1.25 and allowed just one earned run.
Unfortunately for Cedeno and the Brewers, he was unable to stay hot during the post season. In four appearances that totaled just one inning pitched, Cedeno gave up three hits, a walk and two earned runs. He ended up with an ERA of 18.00 and a WHIP of 4.00.
2019 contract situation
Over the past season, Cedeno’s contract paid him $1.05 million and his projected salary heading into 2019 will be $1.5 million. That’s just an increase of $450,000. It’s a good value for the Milwaukee Brewers considering the type of performances that he’s shown he is capable of.
During his time in Milwaukee, Cedeno was primarily put in the game just to face left-handed batters, although he performed nicely against righties in 2018 as well. So if the Brewers plan to use Cedeno in the same fashion next season, Stearns will have to decide if the price tag is worth such a specific role or if the money could be spent better elsewhere.
Why does it make sense to bring back Cedeno?
The Milwaukee Brewers will most likely bring back either Cedeno, Dan Jennings or they’ll have to venture into the free agency pool, which they may do anyways regardless of who they keep.
Though Cedeno pitched in roughly half the innings that Jennings did, he fared much better in 2018. Against lefties, Cedeno put up a slash line of .207/.281/.293, compared to Jennings .226/.266/.304.
Cedeno will also give manager Craig Counsell the option to utilize him against righties, if they choose to not specifically use him as the lefty specialist. Something that Jennings was unable to provide last season.
The slash line that Cedeno put up against righties was not too far off from what it looked like against lefties. Opposing right-handers recorded just .212/.316/.288 while Jennings on the other hand struggled mightily. Righties recorded .320/.399/.528 when Jennings was on the mound.
In addition to the numbers, Cedeno may be the cheapest option for Milwaukee. Jennings is projected to make $1.6 million next season, nearly double what he made in 2018. It will also be difficult to find a free agent in Cedeno’s price range while still bringing in a quality arm.
With the slight increase in pay and considering the other options available at that value, I think it is worth while for the Milwaukee Brewers to bring back Xavier Cedeno in 2019.