Brewers: Three Players the Brewers Wish They Had Kept
By Leo Koenig
They say hindsight is 20/20, and after this 2020 season, there are some players the Brewers wish they still had.
The Milwaukee Brewers have had to make some difficult decisions over the past few seasons, resulting in the 2020 club looking drastically different than the 2018 team that fell one game short of a trip to the World Series, and the 2019 team that lost in the Wild Card Game. Some have aged better than others.
Here we are going to list three players that the Brewers, if they could do it all over again, likely would keep around.
1. Trent Grisham
Trent Grisham, the Brewers’ 1st-round draft pick in 2015, had a short-lived but eventful tenure with the big league club in 2019. He had some great moments like a go-ahead home run in the 8th inning of an August game against the Twins, and then of course the infamous error he committed in right field in the wild card game which contributed to Milwaukee’s elimination.
Since being dealt to San Diego in the offseason along with Zach Davies and in exchange for Luis Urias and Eric Lauer, Grisham has flourished. He batted in the leadoff spot for a competitive Padres team and showed his legit 5-tool skills. He hit 10 home runs, had an .808 OPS, and finished the season as a Gold Glove finalist.
Milwaukee certainly could have used his services in 2020. With Lorenzo Cain opting out of the season, the Brewers were thinner in the outfield than they expected, resulting in guys like Mark Mathias and Tyrone Taylor getting playing time.
So far, the early returns of the trade that sent Grisham out of Milwaukee favor San Diego.
2. Ji-Man Choi
This is a prime example of a decision that made perfect sense at the time, but is frustrating to look back on because of the team’s current needs.
Back at the 2018 trade deadline, when Ji-Man Choi was traded in exchange for Brad Miller, Milwaukee had a surplus of capable first basemen. Jesus Aguilar had a breakout season, and Eric Thames was very serviceable as well, especially against righties. So at the time there wasn’t really room for Choi.
That’s not the case anymore. Choi, now just coming off of an impressive playoff run with the Tampa Bay Rays, is just the kind of player the Brewers need. He is consistently solid on offense (19 home runs, 63 RBI, .370 OBP in 2019), as well as defense (.992 fielding % in 2019).
3. Yasmani Grandal
The Brewers did not get enough production from the catcher position in 2020. Omar Narvaez was never able to find his groove offensively, Manny Pina suffered a season-ending injury, and Jacob Nottingham was inconsistent at best.
Yasmani Grandal, now a member of the Chicago White Sox, was a massive contributor for the 2019 Brewers on a 1-year, $18 million deal (28 home runs, 109 walks in 2019). He was especially valuable down the stretch in September of ’19 when Christian Yelich‘s season ended prematurely.
Being a small-market team, Milwaukee was uncomfortable paying Grandal, who turns 32 next month, the type of money Chicago gave him (4 years, $64 million), especially since they wanted to prioritize locking up Yelich.
That said, Grandal is an All-Star caliber player and would have given the Brewers some positional flexibility in 2020 because of the presence of the DH position, as well as Grandal’s ability to play first base. That was a position that the Crew never got production out of until Daniel Vogelbach got hot at the end of the regular season.
The Brewers aren’t able to get those guys back, but they wish they could.