The Milwaukee Brewers are in the market for a first baseman and there are a few free agent options out there that could be intriguing to add to the current roster.
Bringing back Eric Thames makes sense on a lot of different fronts. He is familiar with the team, he is a fan favorite, he has power, hits left-handed, and is a known quantity in Milwaukee.
Thames had a fantastic season in Milwaukee as was discussed in his 2019 season report card. He had an option on the table for $7.5 million but the Brewers declined the offer making him a free agent. As the market has begun to lay out, Thames might be one of the top targets out there and a reunion makes sense for both parties.
It feels like Justin Smoak has been around forever, but he just turned 33 years old and is entering his 10th season in the majors.
Smoak could bring his switch-hitting bat and solid glove to Milwaukee. Defensively, there doesn’t feel like a difference between him and Thames. Offensively, Smoak could provide value if he returns to his 2018 form after a down 2019.
Smoak’s 2017 and 2018 were career seasons, earning him an All-Star game appearance in 2017. In those two seasons he had a .256/.353/.495 split in 305 games. He had 152 walks compared to 284 strikeouts while hitting 63 home runs and 167 RBIs. In total he had 273 hits, including 63 doubles.
Last season he struggled through the season. In 121 games Smoak was .208/.342/.406 but his 22 home runs and 61 RBIs weren’t too far off from Thames production. He also boasted a 79-walks / 106-strikeout split, which was far better than Thames 51/140 split.
Smoak won’t steal many bases, and isn’t a triples hitter, but when he is right he can provide hits and take walks. Last season could have been an anomaly and he needed a change in scenery. His $8 million salary in 2019 was a high for him and you are probably looking at $6 million to get him in 2020. A one year with an option year could be a good deal for Smoak and the Brewers could be an opportunity to rebound and play competitive baseball again.
The oldest of the trio at 34, Mitch Moreland is another lefty, who could plug into the Brewers lineup and produce a similar output to the other two listed above. In 2019 he was a .252/.328/.507 hitter in 91 games.
The former World Series champ could bring experience to a line up and a steady bat the averages .251/.321/.454/.775 during the last five seasons. He has averaged 20 home runs, 70 RBIs and 107 hits including 24 doubles, he is a solid bat. The big knock on him is walks, taking just 34 last season and an average of just 42 a season in the last five years.
The money for Moreland will most likely be similar to Thames and Smoak, so that is a wash.
Overall any one of these three options are not gonna bring anything different to the position than what has been there the last few seasons, but the Brewers could do a lot worse.