The Milwaukee Brewers started the 2018 season with too many first basemen on the roster. Now? The team essentially has zero options ready to step in. How can the team fix first base in the short term?
Do you remember when the Milwaukee Brewers had three first basemen on their roster? Jesus Aguilar, Eric Thames, and Ji-man Choi all made the Opening Day roster in 2018. Just a year and a half later Choi and Aguilar both ended up in Tampa Bay and Thames is on the open market.
The team doesn’t have an internal option capable of handling the every day job at first base. What can the Brewers do to fix the position for 2020?
How about the guy they just traded for?
2019 was Spanberger’s age-24 season, and he spent the whole year in Double-A. He managed a .237/.308/.399 slash line with 13 homers and 59 RBIs. He also struck out at a 24.4% rate. Spanberger is a solid bet to start the 2020 season in Triple-A and he’ll likely mash in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but he’s not the answer for the Brewers at first base in 2020. He’s probably the answer at first base for the 2020 San Antonio Missions.
Any other internal options?
The only current member of the Brewers roster who could see time at first base in 2020 is Ryan Braun.
Braun played 109 1/3 innings at first base in 2018 and never appeared at first in 2019. The Brewers could look to revive the ‘Braun Experiment’ in order to let Trent Grisham get more time in the outfield.
Could the team make another trade
They could, but can you think of a name on the trade market that isn’t old and expensive or young…and expensive? The San Diego Padres would likely move on from Eric Hosmer or Wil Myers if they had a chance, but are they really that much better, or more affordable, than any of the options on the free agent market? Not really.
So, the Brewers have to spend in free agency?
It certainly looks that way right now.
The market is loaded with capable options at first base, but it’s hard to see a long term option on the free agent market. Most of the available options are either well into their 30’s and look like one-year rentals, or guys who are under 30, but lack an impressive resume.
The Brewers could choose to reunite with Thames at a lower salary and reunite with Tyler Austin, but that’s woefully uninspiring.
The team could also look to go with a platoon as long as one of the options is capable of playing other positions. Pairing a lefty like Justin Bour or Mitch Moreland with a capable righty like Howie Kendrick or Logan Forsythe would allow the team to cover first base and provide the roster flexibility that GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell covet.
The free agent market looks like the best bet for a new first baseman to come to the Milwaukee Brewers for the short term. However the team needs to find a long term answer at first base, and there doesn’t appear to be one anywhere in their current pipeline. Addressing first base early in the 2020 draft should be a priority.