For the Milwaukee Brewers, pitchers and catchers officially report today! Spring training has now officially started and the 2020 season will follow soon after.
Finally, the long offseason is now over. It began earlier than we had hoped for the Brewers after their Wild Card loss to the Nationals, and the last few months were quite stressful for Brewers fans.
Gone are the trusted veterans Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas. Gone are Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Trent Grisham, Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, Jordan Lyles, and Drew Pomeranz. Now a whole new cast of contributors have been brought in to replace them.
The Brewers enter spring training with an uneasy fanbase that has a lot of questions about the roster they’re going to see this season.
With so many things going on in spring training, here are the three most important things to watch for as Brewers spring training unfolds.
1. How Much Time Does Ryan Braun Spend At First Base?
This was the same question heading into 2018 after the Brewers got Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain during that offseason. Ryan Braun was projected to spend a lot more time at first base, but the emergence of Jesus Aguilar that spring limited Braun to 12 starts at first in the regular season, basically ending that experiment.
But now both Jesus Aguilar and Eric Thames are gone. In to replace them are Justin Smoak and Ryon Healy. There’s room for at-bats for Ryan Braun at first base in there, and there could be a platoon between Smoak and Braun.
The thing is, the Brewers have to find at-bats for Braun somewhere. They’re simply paying him too much money not to. Braun will earn $17MM this year, the highest salary on the team.
The Brewers brought in Avisail Garcia on a multi-year contract this winter, and are paying him a $10MM AAV, which is not a sum you pay to a guy to sit on the bench. They also can’t pay Braun $17MM to sit on the bench either.
There are only three outfield spots and the Brewers four highest paid players are all outfielders. One of them has to move and Braun is the most likely candidate. The Brewers have been quiet about how much time they expect Braun to play at first base, but once games start, we’ll get a better idea.