Opening Day is just a month away and the Milwaukee Brewers have 30 days to find out who will make their initial 26 man roster.
Something that Brewers GM David Stearns would be quick to point out is that the Opening Day roster is going to change a lot between then and the end of the season. A few times, they’ve made a roster move just one day after Opening Day. But that doesn’t diminish the pomp and circumstance of making an Opening Day roster.
The Brewers pride themselves on building a deep roster, where the players in the big leagues can cover a variety of positions and they have plenty of capable fill-ins in Triple-A on the 40 man.
With that being said, we’ll take a stab at predicting the Opening Day roster, although it’s still very early in some of the position battles. We’ll take another look closer to the start of the season, but here’s our first rendition of the initial Milwaukee Brewers 26 man roster.
While the extra roster spot would give the Brewers an opportunity to carry a third catcher if they deemed it appropriate, it appears unlikely at this point. Given the depth in the infield after the Brock Holt signing, there’s just too many players at other positions that will play more often and are worthy of a roster spot over carrying a third catcher.
Keston Hiura, Orlando Arcia, Eric Sogard, Brock Holt, Jedd Gyorko, Justin Smoak, Ryan Braun
Yes, Ryan Braun will be marked as an infielder for the purposes of this article. He will likely play both infield and outfield throughout the season, but given the salary and ability level of Avisail Garcia in right field, he’s likely to see a bunch of time out there, which will force Braun to first base when he’s healthy. There, he will also have to share time with Justin Smoak.
Keston Hiura will be the starting second baseman and Orlando Arcia is projected to be the starting shortstop. The Brewers got Luis Urias during the offseason to challenge for that job, but he is recovering from hand surgery and his timeline to make the Opening Day roster is extremely tight. Things can change between now and Opening Day, and the chance is still there that he can make the initial roster, but he won’t make it in this version.
Some combination of Eric Sogard, Brock Holt, and Jedd Gyorko will handle third base duties. Sogard and Holt might be the leaders in the clubhouse for playing time, but both are left handed hitters, which makes platooning them difficult. Holt has fairly even splits against righties and lefties, while Sogard is better against righties, however.
If Urias is able to get healthy and make the initial roster, or whenever he does join this team, Jedd Gyorko could find himself as the odd man out, although he doesn’t have any minor league options remaining, which would mean a DFA. The only members of this infield that still have options are Arcia and Hiura.
Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, Avisail Garcia, Ben Gamel
Christian Yelich is going to be in left field this year, is one of the best players in baseball, and coming into 2020 with a vengeance. Lorenzo Cain is fully healthy and will be the starting center fielder. Avisail Garcia signed a multi-year deal this offseason and will see a lot of time in right field.
Ben Gamel, after spending pretty much all of 2019 in the big leagues and being a valuable 4th outfielder, finds himself on the roster bubble this year after the Garcia signing. Gamel still has a minor league option remaining, which doesn’t help his chances of making the roster.
But with Braun moving to first base for a chunk of the season, that frees up room for Gamel as the backup outfielder. Gamel can fill in at all three spots in the outfield, which is extremely valuable. The 26th roster spot that was created this year gives a big boost to Gamel’s chances of making the roster.
Starting Rotation (5)
A few days ago, Craig Counsell gave an update on the state of the Brewers rotation, with the four pitchers in the lead pack as Woodruff, Houser, Anderson, and Lindblom, in no particular order. Those four are virtual locks to make the rotation with the fifth spot in that group up for grabs between Freddy Peralta, Eric Lauer, and Corbin Burnes a bit behind them.
We’re going to initially put Peralta into that fifth rotation spot, given his addition of the slider to his arsenal, and familiarity with the organization. He’s practically a homegrown player, and his history with the team could help give him a leg up if he’s basically even with Lauer at the end of spring.
The battle will be interesting to watch and this position could change the most between now and Opening Day.
Josh Hader, David Phelps, Brent Suter, Ray Black, Alex Claudio, Eric Lauer, Corbin Burnes, Bobby Wahl
The bullpen is the spot on the roster that will see the most turnover during the season and has the widest margin for error in predicting the original group.
There are a few we know will make the initial group. Josh Hader will be there, as well as David Phelps. Brent Suter is poised to return to the bullpen role he found himself in last September. Ray Black is out of minor league options and did a solid job last year after coming over from the Giants.
Alex Claudio re-signed on a one year contract and is likely to return to his role as a lefty specialist, but the new rule of a three batter minimum could impact his usefulness.
Eric Lauer and Corbin Burnes are currently projected to miss out on the starting rotation in this article. They’re both too talented to not make the big league roster, and can help out in a variety of different ways, even if they’re not in the rotation. One or both of these pitchers could fill the long reliever role if they miss out on the rotation, but could also start the year in the minor leagues.
Bobby Wahl is in the running for the final bullpen spot with several other candidates, among them, J.P. Feyereisen, Devin Williams, Angel Perdomo, and Eric Yardley. While any one of these pitchers could earn a roster spot and will likely see some time in the bullpen throughout the year. Wahl was positioned for a spot last year before tearing his ACL, but is in a good spot to make the team this time around.
With one month to go, there’s a lot that can change with this roster before the season starts. Spring training will help determine who gets those final spots on the roster.