The Milwaukee Brewers need to make an addition at third base, and David Stearns knows it.
Going into the offseason, Stearns talked about how he needed to upgrade the corner infield positions and that the talent currently at those positions in Milwaukee was near the bottom of the league. In order to become legitimate contenders, Stearns needed to upgrade both spots.
He’s upgraded first base, offensively at least. With the free agent signing of Kolten Wong, incumbent second baseman Keston Hiura was moved to first base. His offensive profile should fit well at the position and provide a big hit tool and plenty of power, even though there are defensive question marks.
Then when it comes to third base, Stearns has signed free agent Daniel Robertson, 26, who has struggled in his three years of big league action. Robertson was once a well touted prospect, but has struggled at the big league level, similar to Luis Urias.
Urias is a shortstop by trade, and also hasn’t seen the offensive success he was expected to have at the big league level in his career. It’s hard to hold the 2020 season against Urias as he first broke his hamate bone in January, then once he was ready to return to play the season shut down, then when the season started again he had Covid and missed the first several weeks of the season.
Urias will be in a battle with Orlando Arcia for the starting shortstop job and if he loses that battle, Urias could see a lot of time at third base. While defensively he can do the job, offensively, he’s not a desirable starting third baseman. Third basemen are typically power bats that can hit a home run at any moment and Urias does not have the power to play there long term. Urias is a slap hitter that gets a high batting average but doesn’t have over-the-fence pop.
The Brewers cannot stick with their current group of third basemen and expect to contend.
Milwaukee’s front office had their eyes on the big prize in free agency this offseason as they were deep in the bidding for Justin Turner. But when the Dodgers matched the Brewers offer, he decided to return to Los Angeles, where he’s played for the last seven seasons.
The rest of the free agent market doesn’t have nearly the impact potential that Turner has, but there’s value to be had. Some of the top names on the market now include Maikel Franco, Jedd Gyorko, Travis Shaw, and Jake Lamb.
Signing any one of that group may not be immediate needle movers into the “World Series contention” category, but they’ll help and will push them at least a little closer to it.
Barring an unforeseen trade popping up, those are the likely options the Brewers have to choose from to add to their team. They absolutely cannot go into the season with their biggest need largely unaddressed. Robertson is an upside play, but they’re not betting on him to break out as the everyday third baseman and have an impact. He’s depth.
It would be a failure of leadership and a failure of team building for Stearns to take this Brewers team into 2021 without any sort of third baseman. Those kinds of failures just haven’t happened in the Stearns era. I don’t think he should start now.
Turner is off the market, and it’s time to turn to Plan B. Whether Plan B is Gyorko, or Shaw, or Franco, or Lamb, or someone else, go to it and make it happen. You can’t sit on your hands and go into the season with this group. It won’t work.
Unfortunately for fans, Stearns and the Brewers FO doesn’t operate as quickly as some may like. But the options are out there.