Brewers Positions Of Need
Every offseason, there’s positions that need to be addressed. They generally change every year, but for whatever reason, the Brewers have at least one need that pops up just about every winter.
Figure out First Base
The Brewers have no shortage of options at first base currently at their disposal. Rowdy Tellez and Daniel Vogelbach are both arbitration-eligible and have three more years of team control, while Keston Hiura has even more years of control and was slated to be the starting first baseman this season before a horrible slump led to him losing that job.
But Hiura will be back next year, and if he performs at the level he’s expected to, then first base is in good hands. But if he doesn’t, then what? There’s a strong chance one or both of the Vogelbach/Tellez combo are not brought back, and there’s little other options in the minors.
Eduardo Escobar is a free agent. David Stearns has said to not close the door on a reunion with Escobar, and that could help fill at first base if Hiura is unable to get to his 2019 form.
Of course, there’s the option, albeit the unlikely one, that Milwaukee could go sign someone like Freddie Freeman or Anthony Rizzo in free agency. Stearns could simply bypass his current options and bring in someone proven from outside the organization to solidify first base.
Add Power to the lineup
The typically home run-happy Brewers were not so home run-happy in 2021. In previous years, the Brewers have had multiple 30+ HR hitters in their lineup, yet they had none in 2021. Avisail Garcia was the closest with 29 long balls, but he’s also likely heading to free agency this winter.
The next highest home run hitters in the lineup are Luis Urias with 23 and Willy Adames, who had 20 with the Crew and five with Tampa Bay before arriving here.
An obvious key to increasing the power output of this lineup is finding where Christian Yelich’s power went. If he can get back to the 30+ home run type hitter that he was in 2018 and 2019, then that helps solve the problem. The same goes for Keston Hiura, who also has the power to hit 30+ homers a season but lost his ability to hit for power or average for that matter in 2021.
If those two get their power back, then the offense should be solid, but it couldn’t hurt to add another power bat to the group. First base is a traditionally power-focused offensive position, so solving Need 1 could lead into solving Need 2 at the same time.
This is another spot where the return of Eduardo Escobar could also help. Not only did Escobar play first base in 2021, but he also slugged 28 homers between the Diamondbacks and Brewers.
Replenish Bullpen Depth
Throughout the course of the 2021 season, the Brewers depth in the bullpen was continually tested. Now, entering an offseason where they’re slated to lose three relievers to free agency: Brad Boxberger, Hunter Strickland, and Daniel Norris. Two of them were key pieces to the bullpen, and the other was Daniel Norris.
It also seems like every offseason the Brewers scour the bullpen market and find a solid option or two to add to their group. They will need to do so again this winter. Jake Cousins and Miguel Sanchez stepped up into some big roles but there will be openings in this bullpen that they’ll need to replenish.
Sort out the Outfield
If Avisail Garcia elects free agency and doesn’t return, then the Brewers have Yelich, Cain, and JBJ as highly paid outfielders under contract with Tyrone Taylor deserving of opportunities. Taylor will be paid near league minimum while probably being the best internal option to handle right field. Entering his age-28 season, Taylor hasn’t been a full time starter in the big leagues before and trusting him with that role is risky.
Will they keep both Cain and Bradley? That’s an expensive duo in centerfield for a platoon or for either to not be an everyday player. Could they look to trade one of them for salary relief? That would also drastically change this outfield’s alignment.
The Brewers could look to an outside option to fill the outfield gap for a year before some of the Crew’s top outfield prospects are ready to take over.
Regardless, with the likely departure of Avisail Garcia, the Brewers have to figure out how they want to best configure the outfield for 2022.