It may not feel like it outside, but Spring Training starts in fewer than three weeks. According to a recent report, several remaining free agent relief pitchers are set to sign one-year deals soon. Could the Milwaukee Brewers add to their bullpen before heading to Arizona next month?
While the Milwaukee Brewers have one of the strongest bullpens in the league, they could still use help at the shallow end of their relief corps, and late inning arms are always in demand. Brad Brach and Ryan Madson were the two names listed in the report, but there could be other targets in mind as the calendar moves toward February.
Could the Brewers reunite with familiar names?
Dan Jennings and Xavier Cedeno are still on the market. However, the Milwaukee Brewers have Josh Hader and Alex Claudio in the fold for 2019. They don’t need a third lefty at the Major League level, but they could add depth to stash in Triple-A. If either Jennings or Cedeno are willing to accept a Minor League deal, they could end up in Spring Training with the Brewers.
How about the remaining relief options?
Hader and Claudio are locks to make the 25-man roster, but what about right-handed relievers? Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel are written in pen on the depth chart. Jacob Barnes, Junior Guerra, and Matt Albers are written in pencil. There might be one more opening, but the Milwaukee Brewers have a ton of depth for the rotation. Any of the potential starters who miss out on the starting five could end up in a long relief or ‘swing man’ role.
It’s unlikely that an established veteran would sign a contract without an assured 25-man roster spot. The Milwaukee Brewers are likely out on names like Brach and Madson, but they could look for a reclamation project to stash in the Minors until there’s an injury or a need for a fresh arm on the Major League roster.
Are there any reclamation projects available?
The only free agent relievers that are still available that count as ‘reclamation projects’ are names like Tony Barnette, Matt Belisle, Joaquin Benoit, Santiago Casilla, Daniel Hudson, A.J. Ramos, and Junichi Tazawa. Most of the names listed there are other coming off injury-plagued seasons, needed surgery, were awful, or a some combination of the three options.
Barnette, Belisle, and Tazawa are most likely to accept a Minor League deal, but any of that group could be in play. Milwaukee Brewers GM David Stearns has slow played the off season to perfection. He could end up landing a quality reliever as a depth option that no one is thinking of. The remaining big names are likely to sign soon, and it wouldn’t come as a huge shock to see the Brewers add a depth option to their bullpen.