Who should the Brewers add?: Brandon Belt vs. Avisail Garcia

The Milwaukee Brewers have been recently linked to San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt and free agent outfielder Avisail Garcia. Which hitter makes the most sense for the 2020 roster?

It’s clear that the Milwaukee Brewers are going to add to their offense during this off season. They pretty much have to. Ryan Braun is the only option at the Major League level capable of handling first base, and prospect Luis Urias is listed as the top option at third base.

While there aren’t many rumors linking the Brewers to a solution at third base right now, rumors linking the team to Brandon Belt and Avisail Garcia are gaining steam. Either signing could impact how the team handles the situation at first base, but who makes more sense for the current roster, Belt or Garcia?

How would Garcia impact the roster?

Adding Garcia to the mix would clearly indicate that the team thinks that Braun can handle a larger load at first base. Garcia has spent the overwhelming majority of his career in right field. He’s never played first base at any level. Adding Garcia could push Christian Yelich to left field, and Braun to first base. The Brewers could also try Garcia in left field, but he only has 113 innings there in his career.

Would Garcia fit the offense?

Yes. Garcia owns a .273/.323/.428 slash line for his career, but he’s seen his homer totals increase in each of the last three years. He also owns an .808 OPS against lefties and a .730 OPS against righties, so won’t require a platoon partner, but lefty Ben Gamel can slide in against tough right-handers when necessary.

How would Belt impact the roster

Adding Belt would mean that Braun wouldn’t be required to spend much time at first base, and the outfield wouldn’t change much. Belt has spent time in the outfield, but he’s essentially a full-time first baseman.

Would Belt fit the offense?

Adding Belt, a lefty, would mean the end of Eric Thames in Brewers uniform. Belt is a lefty who mashes right-handed pitching, and isn’t great against lefties. Thames has a similar profile and would be redundant with Belt on the roster.

Belt spent most of his career hitting in San Francisco’s AT&T Park. It’s a park that favors pitchers, but he owns an .809 OPS there for his career. His profile indicates that playing half his games in Miller Park would increase his power production, but he only has 25 games in Miller Park in his career and owns a .702 OPS there.

Who should the Brewers acquire?

Garcia is a free agent, so all he would cost the Brewers is money. If the projections are to be trusted, Garcia is only expected to get a one-year deal in the $7 million-to-$10 million range. Also, Garcia has been in the Majors since 2013, but 2020 will only be his age-29 season.

The Brewers would have to swing a trade to add Belt, but it’s also believed that the Giants are looking to get out from under his contract. Belt is due $16 million for each of the next two seasons, and he’ll become a free agent after the 2021 season. It’s believed that it wouldn’t take much to get the Giants to part with Belt. A name or two off a low-level roster should suffice. The Brewers would likely need the Giants to take on some of what he’s owed, but they have the room on their payroll to add salary.

Next: Which free agent options are still available at first?

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Belt would solve the Brewers need for a true everyday first baseman, while Garcia would force the team into an odd roster construction again. Belt also has the positional versatility that the Brewers covet, while Garcia would be an ‘outfield-only’ option. Garcia may be the easier deal to get completed, but Belt is clearly the better fit for the current roster. However, adding either one of the two rumored options would only help the team in 2020.

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