The Milwaukee Brewers have made a free agent signing, albeit an interesting one for their roster construction.
Pretty much since David Stearns took over as GM of the Milwaukee Brewers, we’ve seen him stockpile outfielders. The Brewers have more outfielders than they know what to do with. They have 13 outfielders on their most recent Top 30 Prospects list, as well as Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, and Christian Yelich all signed to contracts paying them eight figures in 2020.
To add to that group, David Stearns has brought in another outfielder, signing free agent Avisail Garcia to a multi-year contract.
This has been rumored to be in the works since Friday, and the deal finally gets completed on Monday. It’s rare to hear about negotiations going on this long, but it still ends up in a deal.
Jon Heyman was the first to report the details of the contract.
Avisail Garcia agrees to Brewers deal. 20M, 2 years
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 16, 2019
It’s a rather high AAV for the Brewers to hand out to Garcia, especially given how they don’t really need an outfielder and their budget is tighter than most.
Where Does Garcia Fit In?
Well, let’s put it this way: The Brewers aren’t paying Avisail Garcia $10 million per year over the next two seasons to sit on the bench. He’s going to see a lot of playing time. However, the Brewers have three other outfielders making more money than him, and there’s only three outfield spots to give.
With Garcia in the fold, it’s looking like Ryan Braun is going to be shifting to first base more full-time in 2020. They tried that experiment in 2018 and gave up on it after Jesus Aguilar seized that job for himself. But now, it’s all too obvious that Braun is going to have a timeshare at first base in the final guaranteed year of his contract.
Garcia has mostly played right field in his career, and has been getting better as a defensive outfielder, posting a +3 DRS in 2019. Christian Yelich, meanwhile, hasn’t been putting up great defensive metrics and could move over to left field on a regular basis in 2020. Either way , these two will patrol the corners next year for the most part, but we don’t know yet which corners each one will have.
Ryan Braun To First Base
While the Brewers haven’t said how they plan to figure out the position player group, it’s assumed Braun will move to first base as Garcia and Yelich stay in the corners. Braun isn’t going to be the everyday first baseman most likely, and will need a platoon partner, preferably one that hits from the left side.
Braun will need regular days off to stay healthy and that may make first base more of a timeshare than a strict platoon in 2020.
With Eric Thames still a free agent and no one else on the roster that can take that secondary first base role, it stands to reason the Brewers will add someone else to play there, although they aren’t going to be a big name player in all likelihood.
Why Another Outfielder?
At this point, it’s tough to question David Stearns’ overall philosophy on roster building considering how it’s worked so far. But with bigger needs at third base and in the starting rotation, spending this much money on another outfielder is peculiar.
Garcia was clearly a guy they have been targeting this offseason and view him as an upgrade over Braun in left field. Plus, Braun at first base will be an upgrade over Thames or other options at that position. Stearns figures he upgrades two spots with one signing.
It’s an interesting way to go about it, and it remains to be seen how well it’ll work out. But with an extra roster spot to work with next year, Stearns is likely to show some more creativity with how he builds this team.
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The Brewers still have some money to spend and need a third baseman and a few more pitchers going into 2020. He’ll get it done by the time spring training starts.