Brewers Free Agent Who Could Return In 2024: C Victor Caratini
The Brewers tend to like experienced catchers. Victor Caratini is as solid as it gets, bringing quality defense and pitch calling as well as a pretty decent bat. Caratini was much improved in 2023, hitting .259 with a .711 OPS and seven homers in 62 games backing up William Contreras.
Milwaukee doesn't have another catcher on the 40 man roster beyond Contreras right now, which means getting a backup catcher will be a priority this winter. Bringing Caratini back would be the best case scenario for the Brewers.
Caratini already knows this pitching staff, which means they won't have to spend another full spring training with a new catcher learning a completely new staff if they sign him back. The Brewers have a top catching prospect in Jeferson Quero that spent all of this past season in Double-A. Quero is still a year away from the big leagues and won't be ready to backup Contreras to start 2024. He could maybe be ready for a promotion mid-way through the 2024 season.
A one year deal to bring back Caratini could be the perfect stopgap to get to Jeferson Quero. He'll allow the Brewers to take their time developing Quero and give comfort to a veteran pitching staff as the Brewers look to compete again in 2024.
Caratini was the personal catcher for co-ace Corbin Burnes this year, and that's not nothing. This is Burnes' final year under contract as well and another year with that tandem could mean good things for both those players and the Brewers.
Caratini may look to sign with a team where there's a better opportunity to be the starter, but if he can't find that, a return to Milwaukee makes a lot of sense.
Brewers Free Agent Who Will Leave: DH Jesse Winker
The Jesse Winker plan did not work out for the Brewers in 2023. They were hoping he'd be healthy this year and bounce back to his previous performance, but he was not healthy and did not bounce back. His numbers got even worse from last year. Winker hit just .199 with a .567 OPS and only one home run.
Maybe Winker just needs to be further removed from the surgeries he underwent in the 2022-23 offseason, but the Brewers should absolutely not bring him back in 2024 and give him another chance.
Winker's poor performance was a black hole in the lineup and on the roster. He wasn't one of the Brewers best 26 players and keeping him on the roster only led to more problems for Milwaukee.
After the year he had, Winker will be lucky to find a major league deal, and it'll likely only be for one year. He may have to look to a rebuilding team with available at-bats to give to help him get back on track.
For the Brewers, the DH spot is likely going to be covered by a combination of Christian Yelich, William Contreras, and the extra top outfield prospects as they sort out which of their multiple outfielders are the ones worth keeping for the future.