It’s well-documented that the Brewers brought in several new contributors on offense over the offseason. Which of their debuts are Brewers fans likely most excited to see?
It’s rare that a team that goes to the playoffs in two consecutive seasons makes large alterations to their offense the following offseason. Yet that’s exactly what fans saw Brewers General Manager David Stearns do.
Of the 14 offensive players currently on Milwaukee’s active roster, seven of them were acquired by the Brewers this past offseason. Outside of Eric Sogard, who is returning for his second go-round in the blue and gold, fans of the team have plenty of new names and faces that they get to learn.
Brewers fans will be looking forward to the organizational debuts for all of these new hitters in 2020. The following players, however, are three of the most interesting ones that fans will get to see this year.
1. SS Luis Urias
GM Stearns was interested enough in Urias that he traded away starting pitcher Zach Davies, who had the most wins (40) over the last four years of any Brewer pitcher, along with outfielder Trent Grisham, who was showing signs of finally breaking out as a prospect. Those are two players who could’ve gone a long way toward securing another playoff appearance.
But the temptation to add young talent up the middle was too good to pass up, and his Triple-A stats with the Padres show why. The former No. 3 prospect for San Diego per MLB Pipeline has slashed .305/.403/.511 at the highest levels of the minor leagues with 28 homers and 98 driven in over 196 games.
His slash line as a Major Leaguer hasn’t been nearly as eye-opening (.221/.318/.331) but that’s in just 83 games so it’ll be interesting to see what happens if he gets regular playing time. And with offseason doubts among the fanbase about Orlando Arcia’s future with the team, fans will be interested to see whether Urias looks like he can be the Brewer shortstop of the future.
2. C Omar Narvaez
After an outstanding 2019 season that saw him finish second on the Brewers with a 5.2 fWAR, many fans hoped the Brewers would re-sign catcher Yasmani Grandal over the offseason. That didn’t happen, as he ultimately signed with the White Sox, though it apparently wasn’t for a lack of trying.
Shortly after Grandal was off the table, the Brewers went in a different direction, trading their No. 24 prospect RHP Adam Hill and a competitive balance draft pick to the Mariners for Narvaez. Though he comes with more questions about his defensive ability than Grandal had when he came to Milwaukee, the team hopes his offensive potential more than makes up for it.
Narvaez has three years of team control remaining, has slashed .276/.361/.411 for his career, and had 22 homers with a 119 wRC+ and 1.8 fWAR in his first full year in the majors last year. He is hitting his prime years and should only get better offensively. Fans will be watching for that to happen, as well as whether the Brewers can get his defense up to even an average level.
3. OF Avisail Garcia
The Brewers seemed to be relatively set at the outfield position with mainstays Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Ryan Braun still under contract. So, it was a surprise to many fans when the Brewers signed the free agent Garcia, a player who surely wouldn’t be brought in to ride the bench.
Garcia made a name for himself in 2017 with the White Sox when he slashed .330/.380/.506 with a 138 wRC+ and a 4.2 fWAR as he made his only career All-Star game. Though he had a down year in 2018 with Chicago due to injuries, he bounced back last year as a member of the Rays with a .282/.332/.464 slash line, a 112 wRC+, and a career-high 20 bombs.
Manager Craig Counsell was going to have to do quite the balancing act getting playing time for Garcia, Braun, and newly acquired first baseman Justin Smoak. But with the addition of the designated hitter to the National League, fans should get plenty of chances to see if Garcia looks more like the 2017 and 2019 versions of himself, and less like the 2018 one.
These three are just a few of the offseason acquisitions that fans will get a chance to see for the first time this season. All they need is to get tuned up again before the regular season begins.