The Brewers tend to take a flyer on a midseason waiver claim or two each season. Here are a few who have worked out for the team in recent years.
The recent move by the Brewers to designate Justin Smoak for assignment, only to claim Daniel Vogelbach off waivers from the Blue Jays, was met with skepticism by many fans. Why replace a struggling first baseman with yet another struggling first baseman?
Well besides being a logical move in dropping a player whose contract option was unlikely to be picked up for a younger player with more seasons of control, the swap has worked out on the field as well.
In his first three games with the Brewers, Vogelbach has three singles, a double, and two walks in just 11 plate appearances. The four hits are one shy of his combined hit total in 64 previous plate appearances with the Mariners and Blue Jays earlier this season.
Vogelbach is early in his Brewers career, but he joins a handful of other recent players who were claimed off waivers by Milwaukee in the middle of the season and ended up contributing for the big league club. Here are three who played big parts for the Crew over the years.
RHP Jordan Lyles
Before he came to the Brewers from the Pirates via trade in 2019, Jordan Lyles was claimed off waivers from the Padres by Milwaukee in August of 2018 for his first stint with the Crew. San Diego had dangled him on waivers after he went 2-4 with a mediocre 4.29 ERA in 24 games out of both the rotation and the bullpen.
The Brewers brought Lyles in to work strictly out of the bullpen and the move paid off. The righty worked 11 games down the stretch, compiling a more respectable 3.31 ERA as well as a 12.1 K/9 that ranked 3rd among Brewer pitchers behind just Josh Hader and Corey Knebel.
C Stephen Vogt
The Brewers went into the 2017 season with a catching duo of Manny Pina and Jett Bandy. Pina worked out, while Bandy largely did not. So when Stephen Vogt was designated for assignment by the A’s in late June of that season, Milwaukee pounced.
Vogt brought much better production to the team than Bandy, slashing .254/.281/.508 and hitting eight homers in 45 games as the Brewers finished a game shy of a playoff berth. He would unfortunately miss all of the team’s 2018 playoff run due to injury before becoming a free agent after the season.
UTIL Hernan Perez
Arguably the most popular waiver claim among fans in recent memory, Perez was acquired from the Tigers by Milwaukee way back in June of 2015. He would make his Brewers debut the day after being acquired, the first game of many over five seasons in a Milwaukee uniform.
Perez, beloved by fans for his infectious attitude and Gatorade celebrations, slashed .258/.288/.400 over his Brewers career with 45 homers, 67 steals, and 175 runs scored in 572 games. He played every position but catcher for the team, even appearing at pitcher seven times as a position player pitching.
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It’s far too early to know if Vogelbach will have the same level of production as a Brewer as any of these three. If he does, chalk it up as another midseason waiver claim success story.