The "Wrong Side Platoon" Tier
Brandon Belt, Dominic Smith
Platoons are always a possibility with the Brewers. They've utilized them at first base in the past and could do so again in 2024. Jake Bauers is a left-handed platoon option currently on the roster, which leaves him to face the right handed pitchers. That means someone else would have to be the right-handed option to pair with him in a platoon.
Unfortunately, the top platoon first basemen available are also left handed hitters, so they wouldn't pair well with Bauers. Still, Brandon Belt or Dominic Smith would be clear upgrades over Bauers for Milwaukee.
Belt has been a Brewers killer when he was with the Giants. He mashes righties still, posting a 2.0 bWAR with 19 homers and a 136 OPS+ last season for Toronto while earning just 34 ABs against lefties. He'd be affordable in the Brewers desired price range, but with Bauers already on the roster, Milwaukee would likely go in a different direction.
Ditto for Dominic Smith. He received everyday time with the Nationals last year because Washington was not trying to compete. He posted an OPS below .700 last year, but had a .737 OPS against righties with 10 of his 12 homers. Smith would be a solid lefty option in a platoon but the Brewers need a righty option if they go with a platoon.
The "Looking For A Bounce Back" Tier
Trey Mancini, Jared Walsh, Wil Myers
The Brewers do love bringing in bounce back options. Jesse Winker was a bounce back candidate last year, although that didn't work out very well. Ditto for Jackie Bradley Jr previously, also no success. However, Rowdy Tellez was able to bounce back once the Brewers got him, as did Daniel Vogelbach, so there are some successes.
Each of these three players are coming off awful seasons in 2023. Trey Mancini was a very productive player for the Orioles for years, but ever since he left Baltimore, he's struggled. Mancini went from three and a half seasons of above-average OPS+ production, to dropping into the 70s in OPS+. Mancini can hit for average and power when he's right and even though Milwaukee isn't Baltimore, it's a productive hitters environment where he could bounce back.
Jared Walsh had back to back great seasons for the Angels in 2020 and 2021, including an All-Star nod in 2021. His bat has quickly deteriorated over the last two years though. A large part of that could be blamed on neurological issues Walsh was dealing with that impacted his ability to see the baseball, dealing with vertigo, tremors, and a lack of spatial awareness. Walsh has been improving and if the Brewers think he's finally past those issues, he'd be a solid bounce back candidate.
Wil Myers had posted above-average production in eight of his first 10 seasons in the big leagues, including three in a row when the 2023 season got started. He had the worst year of his career in 2023, playing in just 37 games before being released in June by the Reds. He was not able to latch on with anyone else for the remaining three months of the season.
There's several different directions the Brewers could go at first base, but they need to pick someone from one of these tiers, or the trade market, to address the biggest need on the roster.