With the Brewers budget likely to drop after a rough 2020, here are some potential free agent steals.
David Stearns has consistently, and more often than not wisely, shopped the bargain bin since taking over as GM of the Brewers in 2015.
With 2020 being a season of very little revenue, small market teams like the Brewers have to be even pickier when it comes to filling out their rosters. This offseason’s free agent class may not have as many big names as off seasons past, but it’s deep in bargain potential.
The Brewers major weak points appear to be first base, third base, and starting pitching. We’ll look at options for each position and why they are worth the gamble.
The Brewers first base situation hasn’t been in a good place since Prince Fielder left for Detroit after the 2011 season.
They’ve had virtually a different starter there every year since then and have had nothing close to stabilization at a position where good to great offensive numbers are expected and needed. The Brewers aren’t likely to find their long term answer this offseason, but they can find someone that may help them reach the postseason for the fourth year in a row.
After being bought out by the Rockies, Daniel Murphy currently finds himself without a home for the 2021 season. Like most aging players, he has battled injuries a bit over the last couple of years. 2019 was a season where he was relatively healthy and even though his numbers don’t jump off the page, they would be a welcome addition to the Brewers lineup.
David Gasper did a great breakdown of Daniel Murphy and how he’s historically had success at
Miller Park American Family Field.
Much like first base, third base for the Brewers has lacked a consistent player for years. After the departure of Aramis Ramirez in 2015, only Travis Shaw has held the position for over one season and he even seemed more well suited for first base which he played occasionally as well. Here are a couple of third base options that either have positional versatility or would come at a bargain.
After years of seeing the Astros grow into the power house, and controversial hub, they are now; Marwin Gonzalez is now looking for a new home after two years in Minneapolis.
His positional versatility is the perfect fit for what Milwaukee usually looks for in their players as he’s played seemingly every position outside of pitcher and catcher. His asking price is a bit up in the air as he’s coming off a season where he made $9MM.
After this season’s financial issues, the middle of the road to lower end free agents shouldn’t be expecting big deals. Gonzalez has been a solid offensive piece, but hasn’t been the big bat that would require a major financial commitment heading into 2021. He would fit the Brewers well as he typically puts the ball in play and has been a decent source of power throughout his career.
This may be a name that at one time carried a lot of optimism and hope for the Diamondbacks. As of late however, his stats have been anything but optimistic. Jake Lamb has struggled mightily the last couple of years.
Some of that however, can be attributed to being injured.
He hasn’t been able to get back on track but showed major upside in 2016 and 2017 as he averaged nearly 30 home runs per year while knocking in 90+ runs each year. His batting average has never been anything to write home about but he is the type of buy-low player the Brewers should consider taking a chance on.
Starting pitching isn’t the Brewers biggest issue. With Woodruff, Burnes, and Houser, the Brewers have a trio with upside and growth potential.
With that being said, the Brewers offense was hard to watch in 2020. With no major additions coming to help out Yelich and with the farm system not producing impact bats any time soon, it’s likely this team will have to ride their pitchers to a lot of wins. Luckily for them, the bargain bin is full of options this offseason!
Richards hasn’t pitched a full season since 2015, but finally appeared healthy and showed signs of his previous form in 2020. He’s consistently hovered around a K per inning and even while battling injuries, he’s put up great numbers in terms of ERA and WHIP.
He’s starting to get up there in age but has the ability to hold down the middle or back end of a competitive rotation. After his history of injuries, he shouldn’t warrant a huge contract and could be a good mentor for the young pitchers on the staff.
This is a name that every baseball fan should recognize as he was once a household name for the Braves up until last season where he was with the Angels. Consistency has been key with Teheran as he’s been a workhorse his entire career.
The reason why he’s on this list is due to a poor 2020.
As we know with Christian Yelich, 2020 was an odd year for every player and numbers weren’t as they appeared across the board. The same can be said for Teheran as well, as a delayed start threw off the start to his season and fighting through an injury saw his ERA balloon to 10+. He’s a perfect candidate for a 1 year prove it deal before a longer deal in 2022.
This is the only player of the bunch I’d like to see the Brewers offer more than a 1 year contract too. After being a heralded prospect early in his career, injuries have derailed his progress. Taijuan Walker hasn’t had a full season since 2017 and has only put up top end of the rotation numbers over the course of a full season one time.
With 2020 being his first true attempt at getting his career on track, he did not disappoint. With teams historically hesitant to extend multi-year contracts to an injury prone pitchers, this may be an opportunity for the Brewers to take a chance.
It’s hard to know what he is hoping for as an average yearly salary, but that number may come down a bit if he isn’t willing to bet on himself. With a history of injuries, taking the guaranteed money over a gamble may be exactly what he’s looking for.
With the salary dropping for 2021 and the Brewers having some holes to fill, I expect them to take some gambles in free agency. With that being said, I’m not sure if it’ll be on players with injury histories. The only positive thing for the players mentioned is no team will be spending like they typically would. There will be a lot of one years deals as players work their way toward multi year deals in 2022.