Recapping and Grading the Brewers 2019-2020 Offseason Moves
Trades & Acquisitions
Chase Anderson to Blue Jays for 1B Chad Spanberger
November 4, 2019
It was the day the Brewers had to make a decision on Chase Anderson‘s $8.5MM club option for the 2020 season. The Brewers were leaning towards declining that option in the wake of Anderson’s struggles over the past two seasons, and would’ve taken him into arbitration. Instead, the Blue Jays were looking for a veteran starter and they sent minor league first baseman Chad Spanberger in return.
Eric Yardley Claimed Off Waivers from Padres
November 15, 2019
In a less heralded move, the Brewers claimed a 29-year old sidearming reliever in Eric Yardley from San Diego. Yardley has three minor league options and will likely be up and down from Milwaukee and Triple-A San Antonio this year.
Four Player Trade With San Diego
November 22, 2019
This was the biggest trade of the offseason for David Stearns and the Brewers. Reliable contributors Zach Davies and Trent Grisham were sent to San Diego in exchange for Luis Urias and Eric Lauer and a PTBNL or cash. Urias is a middle infielder that figures to compete with Orlando Arcia for the starting shortstop job and Eric Lauer is a solid, young starting pitcher that’s both left-handed and experienced in the big leagues over the past two years.
Grisham became a prominent member of the Brewers in the second half after a strong minor league season and the injury to Christian Yelich. He missed the ball in the 8th inning of the Wild Card game, but that was not the reasoning behind trading him. Grisham would’ve been back down the depth chart in 2020 and would need to get his playing time elsewhere.
Zach Davies last year benefitted from having a great framing catcher and with his skill set, that’s what Davies needs to be successful. This trade came together one day after Grandal signed with the White Sox. Since they knew Grandal wasn’t coming back, it made sense to trade Davies somewhere with a catcher who was good at framing. San Diego and Austin Hedges fit the bill.
Adam Hill to the Mariners for C Omar Narvaez
December 5, 2019
Shortly after trading away Davies because they no longer had a great framing catcher, the Brewers traded for one of the worst framing catchers in baseball. Omar Narvaez is a great hitter, and is somewhat comparable to Grandal on offense, (120 OPS+ in 2019, 112 OPS+ in career compared to Grandal’s 119 OPS+ in 2019 and 115 OPS+ in career), although with a lower walk rate.
But the Brewers needed a viable starting catcher with Grandal gone and Narvaez was among the best available on the market. In return, they sent minor league pitcher Adam Hill, whom they acquired only a year ago in the Keon Broxton trade with the Mets. He spent all of 2019 in Low-A Wisconsin.
A Waiver Claim and a re-signed reliever
December 9, 2019
The Brewers claimed utility infielder Ronny Rodriguez off waivers from Detroit and signed back Alex Claudio on a one year deal after non-tendering him just a week earlier.
Josh Lindblom Signs Three Year Contract
December 11, 2019
The Brewers signed only one free agent to a contract three years or longer, and that was Josh Lindblom. After spending the past few years in South Korea, Lindblom parlayed his dominance into a multi-year deal with Milwaukee, with a guaranteed $9.125MM over those three years. He will likely start in the rotation for the Brewers and can be a solid middle of the rotation arm going forward.
A Spree Of Free Agent Signings
December 13-20, 2019
There was a streak there in December, where the Brewers were seemingly signing a new free agent every single day. The streak started with veteran starter Brett Anderson, who was the only one to not have a club option for 2021 attached to his contract. Anderson is a solid veteran, who can fill the middle of the rotation when healthy, but has dealt with injury issues in the past.
Anderson was followed by Avisail Garcia, who signed a two year, $20MM deal with a club option for 2022. Garcia, another outfielder, was probably the most puzzling addition in terms of fit this offseason. The Brewers already had Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Ryan Braun for the outfield, with Ben Gamel as the fourth outfielder. They did not need Garcia, but they got him. Now the four highest paid players on the Brewers are outfielders.
The Brewers then followed that up with signing corner infielder Ryon Healy to a one year, $1MM deal a day later. Then, Eric Sogard signed a one year, $4.5MM deal with a club option for 2021 to return to Milwaukee. Also, first baseman Justin Smoak signed a one year, $5MM deal with a club option.
More One Year Deals With Options
On January 10th, the Brewers signed Jedd Gyorko to a one year contract with a club option for next year. He marked the third option that can play third base signed by the Brewers this winter. A few weeks later, the Crew added to their bullpen that had been mostly ignored all winter, signing David Phelps to a one year deal, with an option, on January 29th.
Brock Holt Signs To Finish The Offseason
February 17, 2020
Lastly, the Brewers signed Brock Holt to a one year contract with a club option for 2021. Holt gets $3.25MM guaranteed with a $5MM club option and a $750k buyout on that option. Holt is a super-utility player that figures to see most of his time in the infield.