The Milwaukee Brewers are coming off a rather disappointing season. At the conclusion of the 2016 season, the Brew Crew ended with a 73-89 record, which was good for fourth in the NL Central division. The playoffs were obviously not in the picture, and the Brewers finished 30.5 games behind the division winning Chicago Cubs. Even the Wild Card was a pipe dream, as they ended 14 games out there as well.
With the offseason now upon us, the Brewers are in a bit of a rebuilding position. The club does have some interesting young players, such as Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar, but overall, the team is filled with sub-par talent. Some pieces can certainly be moved to bring in some prospects, and any big league additions will likely be of the bridge player variety.
Now with the Winter Meetings nearly upon us, let’s take a closer look at where the Brewers stand moving forward.
Positions of Need
Catcher: As things stand, Martin Maldonado is likely to be the club’s starting catcher. Given his .202 average in 2016 along with just eight homers, they can certainly do better. Andrew Susac is a bit of an interesting player who could eventually emerge, but it is not something that can be counted on. Some veteran leadership could be helpful behind the dish.
Second Base: Scooter Gennett is an average second baseman. But with his rising arbitration price, it is very possible the club looks to move on. He is a potential non-tender candidate, and if not a possible trade piece. There may not be any big time names out there that would be much of an upgrade, but the team is certainly going to look.
Outfield: The current outfield consists of Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton. Braun could be dealt, Santana was inconsistent and Broxton was arrested on November 4th on a misdemeanor trespassing charge. So the team could certainly be on the hunt for some upgrades to roam the outfield.
Starting Rotation: Simply put, the team could use some depth. Junior Guerra emerged last season as the potential leader for the staff, but behind him is a bunch of mediocre type of options. Looking for someone with a little upside outside of the rotation would be a wise move, as this current staff is simply not going to inspire much confidence in the fan base.
Catcher: The club is likely to scour the free agent market for some veteran help behind the dish. Luckily for them the free agent market is pretty loaded when it comes to average/sub-par type of veterans. These are the types of guys who will be good for a handful of homers, and some who will be decent behind the dish. Some of these names include Ryan Hanigan, Chris Iannetta, A.J. Ellis and Kurt Suzuki.
Second Base: Assuming the team moves on from Gennett, they would likely be looking for a cheaper alternative. There is someone like Chris Coghlan, who could provide them with a little flexibility. The same can be said for Kelly Johnson, who always finds a way to earn at bats every season. Then there is the option of bringing back veteran Aaron Hill, who the team traded away last season.
Outfield: The outfield is a deeper market, and this could be a spot where the team spends some extra cash. They will not be going after any top line guys, but they may not be picking at the bottom either. Desmond Jennings offers an intriguing option who may have a little upside left in him. Angel Pagan would provide the team with some veteran leadership and postseason experience. Other potential names to watch include Colby Rasmus, Austin Jackson and Peter Bourjos.
Starting Rotation: If the team doesn’t spend a little money in the outfield, it will likely be spent on the rotation. With names like Chase Anderson and Wily Peralta currently penciled in, the club is certainly prime to add. There are not any big names out there on the free agent market, which is where the club would likely turn. So they would be picking from names such as Jorge De La Rosa, Dillon Gee, Doug Fister and Alfredo Simon.
Possible Trade Pieces
Ryan Braun: It is time for the Crew to move on from Braun. He is coming off a solid 2016, but he still continues to battle injuries every year. He is not getting any younger, and he will be past his prime by the time the club is in contention. So throw his name out there and see what type of prospects he could bring back. Teams such as the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are all in the market for a big bat.
Scooter Gennett: As I mentioned above, Gennett is likely to be on the market as Milwaukee will look to shed his growing salary. The second base market is on the weaker side this winter, so he could become an interesting name, even for teams not in contention this coming year. Some clubs who the Brewers should check in with include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and the Oakland A’s.
Matt Garza: Garza closed last season on a positive note after a very rough year. He has a vesting option for 2018, but after that he is off the books, so moving him now will not be as hard as it has been in the past. Plenty of clubs are looking for pitching depth, and the price for Garza would likely not be very high. One lower to mid level prospect should get the job done. Keep an eye on teams like the Seattle Mariners, Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs among some possible teams who may kick the tires.
One Bold Prediction
The Brewers will walk away from the Winter Meetings with Ryan Braun still in tow, as their biggest move will come in the form of some mediocre free agency signings. I foresee the Brewers signing Ryan Hanigan and Desmond Jennings, with a potential Braun deal coming later this winter.
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So what do you think? What will the Brewers do during the Winter Meetings? Tell us in the comments!