Brewers: 3 Players Who May Not Stay on the 40-Man Roster for 2021

David Freitas, Milwaukee Brewers Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
David Freitas, Milwaukee Brewers Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /
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Though they are on the team’s 40-man roster for now, there’s a chance these players may not be Milwaukee Brewers by Opening Day 2021.

The calendar is about to turn to 2021 (finally!!!) and the Milwaukee Brewers still have been relatively quiet this offseason. That’s not to say no moves have been made, with a handful of players having been added to the 40-man roster through various channels.

After last week’s waiver claim of former Mariner Tim Lopes, Milwaukee’s 40-man roster sits at 37. That still gives the Brewers flexibility to add some players in free agency, such as a first baseman or even a starting pitcher.

But even with the 40-man roster not being at maximum capacity, there are some players currently on it who may not still be that way come Opening Day of next season. Here are three Brewers who could find themselves off the 40-man by the time the 2021 season begins.

C David Freitas

Much has been made of the pileup at catcher for the Brewers after the team added prospect Mario Feliciano to the 40-man to keep him protected from the Rule 5 draft and then signed ex-Pirate Luke Maile a few weeks later.

The depth at catcher means players at the position with no minor league options remaining could have their days numbered. One of those players is 2019 Pacific Coast League batting champion David Freitas, whose only major league action with the Brewers saw him collect one hit in 16 plate appearances at the end of the 2019 season.

The Brewers already have decisions to make with fellow option-free catchers Manny Pina and Jacob Nottingham and still have Omar Narvaez leading the catching depth chart. As a result, it’s likely that Freitas is removed from the 40-man at some point strictly due to being the odd man out.

RHP Ray Black

The Brewers have no shortage of useful bullpen arms for 2021 with former Relievers of the Year Josh Hader and Devin Williams leading the way, up-and-comers Justin Topa and Drew Rasmussen in the fold, and just plain effective arms like Eric Yardley still around.

One pitcher who still needs to prove that he can stick around and be one of those useful arms is Ray Black. And like Freitas, if he fails to state his case by the time Opening Day 2021 rolls around, he has no minor league options left to allow the team to stash him at Triple-A after the season starts.

Black has always had tantalizing stuff with a fastball that has touched 100, but needs to show that his control issues (career 12.3% walk rate in the majors) and rotator cuff injury that sidelined him for nearly all of 2020, and brought his fastball velocity down a couple notches, are behind him. If he doesn’t do that in Spring Training, it could mean the chopping block.

RHP Bobby Wahl

Unlike the other two, Bobby Wahl actually does have one minor league option remaining so it’s not necessarily 26-man roster or bust for him in 2021. But he still has some work to do if he wants to prove that he continues to deserve a spot on the 40-man.

After being acquired by the Brewers in 2019 from the Mets, Wahl missed all of that season after suffering a rare ACL injury during Spring Training. Healthy again in 2020, Wahl made the Opening Day roster but was demoted after surrendering three earned runs over 2 1/3 innings to start the season and never returned to the main roster.

Wahl has intriguing enough stuff – MLB Pipeline gave him a 60-grade fastball and a 55-grade curve in their Brewers Top 30 prospects list to finish 2019. His problem has been staying healthy, even in his pre-Brewers days. So while he’s less likely to be dropped from the 40-man, another injury or underwhelming Spring Training showing could result in his spot going to someone else.

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The Brewers are in no rush to make any of these moves with the 40-man roster not yet full. But once the roster starts to fill out, look for some of these moves to possibly get made.