Once MLB’s lockout of the players ends with a new CBA, the transaction freeze will lift, and we’ll see a flurry of free agent signings. The Milwaukee Brewers are going to be in on the action.
Spring training will be getting started very quickly after the CBA is agreed to and the remaining free agents are going to be in a hurry to sign, and teams will be in a hurry to sign them.
The Brewers made some moves prior to the lockout, acquiring infielder Mike Brosseau, reliever J.C. Mejia, and most notably, outfielder Hunter Renfroe in trades. They also signed Pedro Severino and Trevor Gott as free agents. But there’s still more work to be done on this roster.
With the addition of the DH in the NL, the Brewers likely will be on the lookout for another bat, which we’ve covered extensively at RtB. But another area where the Brewers are going to look to upgrade is the bullpen.
Given the current bullpen depth on the roster, Milwaukee should look to add at least one, maybe two veteran relievers still to this group. Three relievers from last year’s bullpen that were on the 40 man roster are free agents (Brad Boxberger, Hunter Strickland, Daniel Norris) and two pitchers were added in Mejia and Gott.
The Brewers are going to sign at least one more free agent to fill out their bullpen, and it will likely be someone from this group of 10 free agent relievers.
Brewers free agent reliever targets #1 and #2: RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Hunter Strickland
Why not run it back? Both Brad Boxberger and Hunter Strickland were key members of the Brewers bullpen in 2021, putting up strong seasons. Boxberger, 33, posted a 3.34 ERA as the regular 7th inning setup man and Strickland, 33, served in a variety of roles and posted a 1.73 ERA in 35 games with Milwaukee.
Both were excellent and could still serve in valuable roles for the Brewers again in 2022. They are familiar with the organization and Craig Counsell knows how to use them.
Boxberger will turn 34 in May while Strickland will turn 34 in September. Coming off the seasons they had, both could’ve been searching for a two year deal earlier in the offseason, and the Brewers may not want to do that with either of them. But with a flurry of moves happening in a shortened timeframe once the lockout ends, they’re more likely to receive one year offers as everyone tries to just get signed and lock something in for 2022.
As that flurry happens and the two pitchers are receiving a number of calls, a call to come back to Milwaukee in a familiar role is likely to stick out to them.
With the Brewers on the lookout for bullpen help, bringing back one or both of these pitchers who had success with them last year may be the smart play. But, there are other options out on the market.