With Opening Day less than 60 days away, the Brewers have a few players that will play third base this season, so how might the playing time be distributed. Let’s examine the three most likely candidates, Eric Sogard, Ryon Healy and Jedd Gyorko.
Eric Sogard, who played for the Brewers in 2017 and 2018, had his best year in the majors in 2019. With both the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays he had a slash-line of .290/.353.457 along with 13 homers and 40 RBIs in 442 plate appearances. Outside of 2019, he is a career .248/.318/.343 hitter who hits for very little power.
Sogard is very versatile defensively playing multiple positions including second, third and short. He has an opportunity to play a lot between shortstop and third base considering the team’s question marks at third, Luis Urias‘ injury and Orlando Arcia‘s ongoing offensive issues. Sogard is probably not an every day player on a contenting major league team but is a nice bench/injury option.
Unlike Sogard, Jedd Gyorko, who came to the Brewers from the Dodgers, had a forgettable 2019 season. In 2019 he only had 101 plate appearances with a slash line of .174/.248/.250 in an injury plagued season. He did have a couple of really nice seasons back in 2016 and 2017 where he hit 20 and 30 home runs. In 2017 Gyorko also hit .272 with an OBP of .341. His stats weren’t as impressive in 2018, but he did have an impressive OBP of .346 that year. The Brewers seem to covet high on-base guys with power.
On defense he primarily plays second and third but does have experience at shortstop and first base as well. So like Sogard, he brings a lot of defensive versatility. He even fills the pitching void left by Hernan Perez by having pitched in two games in his career. Gyorko can be an everyday starting infielder if he can stay injury free and regain his hitting stroke.
Ryon Healy is another player that had an injury filled 2019 season where he only had 187 plate appearances in 47 games. Unfortunately for Healy, his slash lines got worse each of his four major league seasons. His line was .305/.337/.524 in 2016 and by 2019 it was .237/.289/.456. While his slash-line may have been decreasing, there is no question that Healy has power. In 2016 in only 269 at bats he hit 13 home runs and then in full seasons in 2017 and 2018 he hit 25 and 24 home runs in Oakland and Seattle.
Defensively he can play both first and third but most people think he is better at first. Again, he is another player that can play multiple positions for the team. Healy has the potential to be an every day starter and it will be interesting to see how his power will player in Miller Park instead of Oakland or Seattle. It’s also possible that Healy will find himself in the minors to start the season or maybe in a larger role at first base.
When looking at these three options at third base, I believe the Brewers want Gyorko to be the guy who gets the most opportunities and they are hoping he can return to the form he had prior to his injury filled 2019 season. If Gyorko can’t, then you are looking at a possible three person platoon situation until they have an opportunity to upgrade through a trade.