One of the most important free agent singings the Milwaukee Brewers have made so far this offseason was actually a reunion for the team. That was when the Crew agreed to a deal with starting pitcher Wade Miley, who returns after pitching for the team last season.
The deal was a big one considering they will be without long time starter Brandon Woodruff, who was non-tendered in November. It helped that both sides were well familiar with each other, making a return to Milwaukee an easier decision.
Starting pitching isn't the only weakness that the Brewers need to address and there are still plenty of free agents left out on the market to help them do so. Perhaps they could look at another reunion or two just like they did with Miley.
Here are three ex-Brewers the team could look at reuniting with in free agency this offseason.
1. 1B Carlos Santana
Yet again, the Brewers are back to the drawing board when it comes to staffing the first base position. Ever since the days of Prince Fielder, Milwaukee has cycled through a number of different first basemen and with Rowdy Tellez non-tendered and off to Pittsburgh, they're on the hunt yet again.
This problem could be solved relatively easily, though, at least for a year if they were to reunite with their most recent starting first baseman. Bringing back familiar face Carlos Santana would be a likely affordable option (due to his age of 37) and would give them a player who saw some success in Milwaukee late in 2023.
After being acquired from the Crew at last year's trade deadline, Santana was one of the team's best offensive producers the rest of the way, batting .249 with a .773 OPS, 11 homers, and 33 RBIs in 52 games. A reunion could save the team money to spend elsewhere and work on developing a long-term plan at the position. It almost makes too much sense not to do.
2. 1B Garrett Cooper
While fellow free agent first baseman Garrett Cooper never played at the Major League level with the Brewers, the 33-year-old spent just over four seasons in the Milwaukee organization after they drafted him in the sixth round of the 2013 draft. But in 2017, he would be traded to the Yankees in the deal that landed the Crew pitcher Tyler Webb.
Cooper has since played seven MLB seasons and has a career slash line of .268/.337/.435 with 56 homers and 222 RBIs in 481 games played. He is also just two seasons removed from his first and only All-Star game appearance.
While Cooper is only an average home run threat, he has solid career offensive numbers, is a decent enough defender (3 DRS and 8 OAA at first base for his career), and has a career .816 OPS against lefties, an area the Brewers can always use help in. If bringing back Santana doesn't work out, Cooper would be a decent backup option.
3. SP Jake Odorizzi
Even after reuniting with Miley, the Brewers could probably still use at least one more proven starter on the squad with Woodruff gone. But with the going rate for starting pitchers so far this offseason, many of the free agent starters out there are likely out of the Crew's price range.
And while a reunion with 40-year-old Zack Greinke would be super fun for nostalgia's sake, a more realistic reunion might be with 33-year-old starter Jake Odorizzi, who like Cooper, never played in the majors with the Brewers but began his professional career with Milwaukee after they drafted him in the first round back in 2008.
Odorizzi is an 11-year MLB veteran with a career 3.99 ERA and 1.248 WHIP in 241 games pitched, all but four as a starter. He was also an All-Star in 2019 and has experience pitching in the World Series when he struck out five of nine batters faced in Game 1 of the 2021 with the Astros.
The big red flag is that Odorizzi is coming off of shoulder surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2023 season. But if he is deemed healthy, that status could drive down his price tag, allowing the Brewers to bring in a veteran pitcher with a solid pedigree at a low price.