We finally made it, Brewers fans!
At times it may have felt like we’d never get to this point. But on March 10th, 2022, it has been reported that the MLB and the Players’ Union have reached a new labor agreement, which was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
As a result, team operations around the league are finally allowed to resume ahead of the 2022 season. This also means that free agency, trades, etc., are allowed to take place once again, possibly as soon as tonight.
When we left off, the Brewers had made one big move right before the clock struck midnight and MLB instituted this offseason’s lockout. That move was a trade with the Red Sox that brought in outfielder Hunter Renfroe for fellow outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr plus two prospects.
Overall, that left Milwaukee in a mostly decent spot heading into the rest of the offseason. There are still some areas in which the Crew could still stand to add, whether that be due to rule changes or an overall need for depth.
Here are three positions that the Brewers should address immediately now that the MLB lockout is over.
1. Designated Hitter
While negotiations were on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement were taking place, it was reported that the universal designated hitter would be a part of it, as expected. Once the CBA is ratified, the DH will, in fact, officially be added to the National League.
The Brewers do have some internal options to fill the position if they chose to go that route. Most notably, you could either see a rotation of Keston Hiura and Rowdy Tellez switching off between that position and first base. Christian Yelich could also get some reps to also give him a break on defense.
The name everyone seems to want to see there on the lineup card, though, is free agent Nelson Cruz. The former Brewer wouldn’t be cheap and at nearly 42 is definitely getting up there in age. He is fresh off a 32-homer, 2.5-bWAR season, though, and would still provide plenty of punch to a Milwaukee lineup that could use it.
2. Relief Pitcher
The Milwaukee Brewers bullpen has been a strong point for the team ever since their recent run of success began. And with a backend that features the winners of the last four NL Relievers of the Year in closer Josh Hader and setup man Devin Williams, it surely will be once again.
The bullpen depth took a little bit of a hit this offseason, though. Brad Boxberger and Hunter Strickland, two of the team’s best relievers down the stretch, headed off to free agency, which left the Crew a little thin at the position.
Free agency is the most likely route that president of baseball operations David Stearns would take to patch the holes and we looked at several candidates earlier this offseason. Do the Brewers reunite with one or both of Boxberger and Strickland? Do they go for a big-named arm? Only Stearns knows the answer.
3. Corner Infield
Don’t get me wrong, corner infield isn’t as glaring of a need as it was going into both the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Two of the Brewers’ top offensive threats late last year were third baseman Luis Urias and first baseman Rowdy Tellez, so the team isn’t exactly hurting for starters at either position.
Some questions remain when it comes to the depth at both positions, though. Is Hiura finally ready to bounce back? Will Tellez regress? Can we ask the same about Jace Peterson? Can newcomer Mike Brosseau look more like his 2019 and 2020 self in backing up Urias?
Due to the level of the incumbents at both first and third, it’s unlikely that the Brewers make any big splash signing at either position. But don’t be surprised if Stearns adds either a veteran on a cheap contract or a minor leaguer with an invite to spring training to give multiple players a chance to earn a backup spot at corner infield.
Want your voice heard? Join the Reviewing The Brew team!
Soon, the MLB lockout will be just a memory, one that fades quickly as we turn our attention to the flurry of moves that the Brewers, as well as everyone else, start making now that they finally can.