The Milwaukee Brewers entered this offseason with a major hole at second base. That hole is still there while there has been some movement on the second base market.
Not long ago, the Milwaukee Brewers added Cory Spangenberg on a one year, $1.2 million deal. However, he couldn’t hold down the second base spot on a rebuilding club like the Padres over the past couple years, so there’s little reason to believe he’s the guy to hold it down for a World Series contender like the Brewers.
There’s been some movement on the free agent and trade markets at second base so far. The Rockies signed Daniel Murphy, the Padres signed Ian Kinsler, and the Athletics traded for Jurickson Profar. That takes three options off the board for the Brewers, but also three teams out of the market for second basemen.
There’s still an overabundance of second baseman out there, and not as many team in need of one. The Brewers, Nationals, Pirates, Angels, and possibly Blue Jays are the teams that could have interest in bringing in a second baseman for next year.
Free Agent Options Remaining
The soon-to-be 35 year old Lowrie is coming off consecutive strong seasons at the plate for the Oakland A’s. He brings decent power with him to the plate, swatting 23 home runs in 2018 and 14 long balls in 2017.
Lowrie is also a switch hitter, which is always a good type of player to have. In 2018, 19 of Lowrie’s 23 homers came from the left side of the plate. Miller Park is very friendly to left handers when it comes to home runs and that’s where most of Lowrie’s power is.
When it comes to his splits, Lowrie hits for a higher average as a righty (.276 career BA as RHB, .256 career BA as LHB) but hits for more power as a lefty (78 career HR as LHB, 26 career HR as RHB).
While the Brewers would likely prefer Lowrie on a one year deal, the fact that 37 year old Ian Kinsler and soon to be 34 year old Daniel Murphy signed two-year deals, and Murphy has a mutual option for a third, Lowrie is going to be looking for a similar multi-year pact.
It’s going to have to be late in the offseason if the Brewers are going to sign Lowrie, when he lowers his asking price. Remember, GM David Stearns is looking for a bargain, but Lowrie would be a great fit if they can get him.
Cabrera is another switch hitter who has a decent amount of power to add to a lineup. He’ll generally finish anywhere between 15-25 homers in a season, ending 2018 with 23 total long balls with the Mets and Phillies.
He’ll hit for a decent average, nothing spectacular, but he’s a solid option at the bottom of the lineup.
Defensively, Cabrera has struggled with limited range in recent years. But given the amount of infield shifting the Milwaukee Brewers do, that concern should be mitigated.
Cabrera is 33 years old, and could be looking for a one-year pact to regain some value after his numbers took a nosedive following his trade to Philadelphia.
Since not being traded, Flores became a regular member of the Mets infield, although he lacked a long term home. Flores was non-tendered earlier this offseason.
Flores has success against right handed pitchers, but struggles against lefties. Current favorite for the second base job Hernan Perez hits much better against lefties, which could make for a nice platoon pairing between the two.
Flores should sign a one year deal to try to prove himself after getting non-tendered this year. He’s not a glamorous option, but he could fit the team and the Brewers clearly liked him before.
Tulowitzki is technically a shortstop, but he’s said he’s willing to change positions in order to sign a new contract this offseason after being released by the Blue Jays.
Tulo will have to sign for the veteran’s minimum this offseason after his release, making him the perfect buy-low opportunity. He was a superstar with Colorado in his prime, but injuries have derailed his career over the past several seasons.
Still just 34 years old, Tulo hopefully has a few years left. By playing him at second base and giving him the ability to rest on the bench every couple of days to keep him fresh and healthy, the Brewers are the perfect landing spot for the veteran.
Playing in a hitter’s paradise like Miller Park should also help Tulo get his offensive production back to similar numbers to what he put up in Coors Field. If he gets injured again, the Brewers have the depth to cover for him.
LeMahieu is the top second baseman on the market, and he’d be a great fit in Milwaukee’s lineup. He was the NL batting champ in 2016 and, although his batting average took a dip this year, he’s just 30 years old and has plenty of good years left.
He never hit for much power in his career, even at Coors Field, but he doesn’t strike out much and gets on base, which sounds like the type of player the Brewers have been targeting.
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The issue with LeMahieu is that he’ll likely command at least a three year deal on the open market. It’s doubtful that the Brewers would be willing to do that with Keston Hiura a year away from the major leagues.
If the Milwaukee Brewers are comfortable going three years with LeMahieu, that could free them up to trade Keston Hiura in a package to the Indians for Corey Kluber. That is just my speculation, but the Brewers wouldn’t trade Hiura away without a long term plan for second base and they wouldn’t sign LeMahieu unless they had a place to put Hiura. Working out a trade with the Indians but making it contingent on signing LeMahieu first would be one option for Stearns to take.
Harrison has seen his bat steadily decline since his breakout 2014 season when he hit .315 with 38 doubles and 13 homers. Last year, he hit .250 only 13 doubles and eight homers in 97 games.
Harrison can play all over the infield but has played mostly second base the last three seasons. He’s limited defensively as well, but again that should be mitigated by the Brewers shifting.
It’s more than likely that Harrison will settle for a one year deal that may only put him in a utility spot and not guarantee him a chance to start based on his recent decline. He’d be another depth option for Milwaukee, but he’s not a difference maker at second base.
The former Twins cornerstone struggled mightily with the Dodgers since getting traded there in July. Actually, he struggled throughout 2018.
In 2016, Dozier hit .268 with 42 home runs and followed that up with a .271 batting average and 34 home runs in 2017. But in 2018, Dozier dropped all the way down to a .215 average with only 21 homers.
Some of that might be regression as Dozier is now entering his age-32 season, but Dozier was extremely unlucky in 2018. His .240 BAbip is very, very low and that was a drop of 60 points from his BAbip in 2017. Dozier is a pull hitter, but his pull percentage in 2018 was the lowest it’s been since 2013. So it just appears to be a matter of bad luck instead of shifting negatively impacting him.
Dozier was in line for a big payday heading into 2018, but after his struggles this past season, he could be looking for a one year deal to rebuild his value and re-enter free agency next offseason. Playing on a contending team should be intriguing to him.
The Milwaukee Brewers will probably look to sign one of these players to fill their hole at second base prior to the 2019 season.