It finally happened! The Milwaukee Brewers have officially made their first post-lockout signing, and though it may not be the big splash some fans were hoping for, it certainly addresses a position of need for the Crew.
With the bullpen needing some depth, president of baseball operations David Stearns decided to reunite with a key contributor from 2021. They have signed veteran reliever Brad Boxberger to a one-year, $2.5MM deal with incentives, which was first reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN and later confirmed by the club.
Boxberger had a bit of an interesting journey with the Brewers over the course of just one season. Signed as a minor league free agent with an invite to spring training, he wouldn’t end up making the team, would be released, but still end up signing another minor league deal to stay with the organization.
Boxberger wouldn’t even make it to the minor league season, though. He would be added to the 40-man roster on April 6th and end up forming a daunting trio, along with setup man Devin Williams and closer Josh Hader, at the back of the Brewers bullpen.
In 71 appearances, Boxberger would go 5-4 with a 3.34 ERA, a 1.067 WHIP, and four saves. His 11.6 strikeouts per nine would be his highest mark since the 2018 season (12.0). But at the end of the season, he would become a free agent.
Now, Brad Boxberger gets to make his second run with the Brewers after signing a new contract for the 2022 season.
Should Boxberger come anywhere close to his production from last season, $2.5MM plus another roughly half million in incentives isn’t a bad price to pay at all. And if he does, in fact, perform that well, the contract comes with a club option to bring him back for a third season in blue and gold.
Most importantly, it fills one of the few glaring roster needs.
After losing Boxberger and midseason acquisition Hunter Strickland to free agency, the Brewers bullpen was set to look a little thin. Yes, Hader and Williams are still there and Brent Suter and Jake Cousins were likely to play big roles once again. But after that?
Newcomers J.C. Mejia and Trevor Gott were being projected for some work out of the bullpen, as were returning relievers Angel Perdomo and Jandel Gustave. Would that have been enough to replace all that was lost with Boxberger and Strickland?
It’s hard to predict in that scenario that the bullpen would have gotten by just as fine as they did in 2021. Thus, the Brewers decided that among the relievers available on the market, they would first bring back a proven commodity, and it’s hard to argue with that logic.
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The first domino has fallen in the Brewers’ resumption of offseason moves. I can’t imagine it will be the last.