Expectations entering the 2020-2021 offseason was that the free agent and trade markets would return to slow developing after a rather accelerated off-season in 2019-2020.
Unfortunately, those expectations have become reality for most teams in baseball, with the exceptions of the rather aggressive Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and New York Mets. For Brewers fans, David Stearns recently was quoted with his patented line indicating that he is remaining patient but exploring options.
As fans, this of course is frustrating for the Brewers two biggest needs entering the offseason in October were corner infield help. Unless you count tendering a contract to Daniel Vogelbach, I believe neither the first base or third base positions have been properly addressed yet.
Assuming no changes with this year’s schedule, the Brewers first spring training game is set to be February 27th and Opening Day this year is on April 1st. While in slow developing offseasons like this year it is not uncommon for players to sign halfway or even three quarters of the way through spring training, I will continue to hold my breath until the corner infield spots are upgraded.
As the roster stands today, the only “true” first basemen on the Brewers roster is Daniel Vogelbach. The current infielders on the 40 man roster who could play third base are: Luis Urias, Mark Mathias, and Tim Lopes.
With Vogelbach, his hitting surge in the first half of the 2019 season with the Mariners earned him in All-Star appearance, but a .162/.286/.341/.626 slash line the second half of that season in combination with mixed overall 2020 season means his bat is not a for sure thing entering 2021.
His lack of playing time at first base throughout his career is also a concern. With uncertainty somehow still surrounding the DH in the National League, Vogelbach and the Brewers may not have a choice but to have him play in the infield during 2021 if no other acquisitions are made.
As for third base options, Urias spent innings there in 2020 but may be better suited playing second base or shortstop. Mathias and Lopes are both super utility players and are not viewed to have a specific primary position.
Urias and Lopez both have had very successful and productive seasons in 2019 at the Triple-A level. Urias had a .315 batting average, .998 OPS, and 19 home runs in 73 games while in 95 games Lopes hit .302, .838 OPS, 10 home runs, and 60 runs batted in. In limited MLB experience, both Urias and Lopez have yet to display prolonged stretches of their hitting potentials.
As it stands today, David Stearns currently has only put together a portion of the infield puzzle. He still has work to do and at some point this offseason a flurry of moves will start being made not only by the Brewers, but league wide.
Given his track record of success, at this point all we can do is continue to trust in Stearns and wait and see how the corner infield spots shake out.