With the offseason in full swing, it’s time to look at what positions could be in need of upgrade. Like other recent seasons, it seems like the Brewers have a need at third base.
After a strong 2021, incumbent starter Luis Urías took a step back, and he fell to more of a platoon/utility role. Assuming the Brewers do not bring back Jace Peterson, they would be left without an everyday third baseman, and could look to one of the following to man the hot corner next year.
After taking a step back in 2022, the Brewers once again are looking for consistent offensive production, and third base could be a spot for upgrades.
Third Basemen in the Brewers System
Luis Urías: .239/.335/.404, 110 wRC+, 16 HR, 2.4 fWAR
Urías could very well see himself get the lion’s share of plate appearances in 2023. He wasn’t awful, posting a wRC+ of 110 after missing the first month of the season, and was one of only three players on the team to have a wRC+ over 100 against lefties and righties.
Defensively, Urías is not going to win any Gold Gloves and will make the occasional spectacular play paired with a mind-numbing error. Luis Urías might not be the sexiest name, however the Brewers could easily do worse.
Mike Brosseau .255/.344/.418, 118 wRC+, 6 HR, 0.5 fWAR
The pinch-hitter extraordinaire, Mike Brosseau has been a dependable bat off the bench for the Brewers, and he is likely to remain in that role next season. It is possible the Brewers would shift Brosseau to the everyday role, but given the versatility, it makes the most sense for him to remain as an option off the bench.
Possible Free Agent Third Basemen
Nolan Arenado .293/.358/.533, 151 wRC+, 30 HR, 7.2 fWAR
Could Nolan Arenado opt out and buck the division champs to head north to Milwaukee? Yes. Will he? Highly doubtful. Even if Arenado would, he would more likely than not demand a contract that the Brewers front office has shown they are unwilling to pay. But it would be nice to bring in another MVP candidate, as a core of Yelich and Arenado would compete for a World Series Championship.
Joey Wendle .259/.297/.360, 87 wRC+, 3 HR, 1.2 fWAR
The former All-Star is coming off of a down offensive season in Miami but provides plus defense. While he doesn’t hit the ball hard, he also does not strike out or whiff at pitches much.
Joey Wendle would be a budget signing for the Brewers and wouldn’t command the long-term commitment that other options would require. A lefty with positional versatility, Wendle could slide into the role presumably left by Peterson, though without the catchy nickname.
Brandon Drury .263/.320/.492, 123 wRC+, 28 HR, 3.1 fWAR
Brandon Drury was a surprise breakout player this year in Cincinnati, then continued in San Diego after a slow start. Previously identified as a target for the Brewers at the trade deadline, Drury could finally make his way to Milwaukee after hitting the free agent market. Like Wendle, Urías, and Brosseau, Drury is defensively versatile, which the front office does tend to value.
This is an exceptionally weak free agent class, with the best player unlikely to opt out. If the Brewers decide that free agency is not the way to add, there are candidates that could be added via the trade.
Third Base Trade Targets
Rafael Devers .295/.358/.521, 141 wRC+, 27 HR, 4.9 fWAR
An upcoming free agent after the 2023 season, the Red Sox have given no indication that trading Rafael Devers is something they would consider, and if Boston would make a player of his caliber available, the Brewers would have to part with multiple prospects, and possibly a young pitcher.
Chaim Bloom may have some reservations about trading with David Stearns and Milwaukee after the lopsided Renfroe deal, but if the Brewers want to make it clear they are serious about contending for a championship and not just a bite at the apple, pursuing Devers would be the right play.
Brian Anderson .222/.311/.346, 90 wRC+, 8 HR, 0.4 fWAR
Brian Anderson, no relation to Brian Anderson of Bally Sports Wisconsin, is currently with the Miami Marlins and once again brings defensive versatility. In 98 games played with Miami, Anderson split time between third base and right field, with some time spent in left as well.
After two strong seasons to start his career, Anderson has struggled to catch on, and has posted a below league average wRC+ for each of the past two seasons. With Miami once again at a crossroads, they could look to part with the 29-year-old, and he could find a home in Milwaukee as he enters his final year of team control.
Gio Urshela .284/.335/.429, 118 wRC+, 13 HR, 2.2 fWAR
Gio Urshela is currently on the Minnesota Twins, who are also not sure what to do with him. Projected to earn somewhere around $10 million next season, the Twins could be looking to move on, and although he doesn’t have the same defensive versatility that some of the other options provide, the Brewers may like Urshela enough if the price is right.
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Ultimately it is too early to say for sure who will start at third base next season. The Brewers seem to be at an impasse and need to truly find a direction. Upgrading at third base would be a way to ensure the team remains competitive. However, with a weaker class, and expensive trade options, perhaps the Brewers better off riding with who they currently have.