The Milwaukee Brewers are coming off a season that saw them reach the postseason for the second year in a row, something that had not happened since the 1981 and 1982 season. With the departures of Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal in free agency, many fans were outraged at GM David Stearns and owner Mark Attanasio for not opening the proverbial wallet to keep two fan favorites whose offensive production would be difficult to replace.
That being said, Milwaukee is a small market team and those two players commanded more money than the front office was willing to spend on just two players. The long-term finances of the club must be considered. Many of the trades and signings that the Brewers have made this offseason, while lacking the star-names and big-money contracts, have been potentially solid additions to the club without sacrificing future payroll considerations.
Below are five the best additions the Brewers have along with how each player can potentially fill voids left by departing free agents and/or improve the on-field product:
INF Luis Urias
2019 Season (Padres): .223/.329/.326; 4 home runs; 24 RBI in 71 games; 1.0 WAR
The offensive stats are not flashy, but the glove is. Orlando Arcia has not developed into a reliable hitter and his defense regressed last season. The addition of Urias, who can play short stop, third base, and second base, creates competition at the shortstop position and provides a replacement option at third, which was vacated by Moustakas. Prior to 2019, Urias was one of the top prospects in all of baseball, so there is a lot of potential for growth.
LHP Eric Lauer
2019 Season (Padres): 8-10; 4.44 ERA; 1.396 WHIP 149.2 IP; 29 starts
Eric Lauer was the Opening Day starter last year, but is considered to be a back-of-the-rotation starter. He has problems with the long ball and walks more than his fair share of batters. That being said, the Brewers’ rotation was dominated by lefties last season. Lauer, along with Brett Anderson, provide left-handed options in the starting rotation. Lauer dominated the minor leagues, being called up less than 2 years after beginning his professional career. He has not had the injury history of Anderson and could develop into a good inning eater.
C Omar Narvaez
2019 Season (Mariners): .278/.353/.460; 22 home runs; 55 RBI; 2.1 WAR
Many fans were upset that Grandal was not resigned, though many were happy to see his less-than-stellar defense go. Regardless of his defensive skills, it cannot be argued that Grandal provided a nice lift to the top of the lineup (.246/.380/.468; 28 home runs; 77 RBI; 2.5 WAR). Narvaez’s numbers are slightly lower, but not by much. Additionally, Narvaez is a left-handed hitter and will benefit greatly from the short porch in right field. If you only count the games that Narvaez caught last year (as opposed to DH), his OBP jumps to .373 and SLG% to .517, which both led the American League and were second in all MLB.
OF Avisail Garcia
2019 Season (Rays): .282/.332/.464; 20 home runs; 72 RBI; 2.0 WAR
This was a move that confused many fans, but upon further review it does make sense. Garcia is an outfielder, primarily a corner outfielder, which means Braun and/or Yelich are moving. Yelich is perennial MVP candidate, so he will not be moved. Braun is aging and has expressed a willingness to play first base if needed. Gracia’s signing indicates that Braun will see more time at first and, perhaps, Yelich may return to left field (where he won a Gold Glove while playing with the Marlins).
1B/3B Ryon Healy
2019 Season (Mariners): .237/.289/.445; 7 home runs; 26 RBI; 0.1 WAR
Ryon Healy’s signing provides the Brewers with depth, something they lacked with the departures of Travis Shaw, Moustakas, Grandal, and Eric Thames. He is coming off of surgery on his back, so health is a concern. However, he still has minor league options left so he can be sent down if he fails to produce in spring training. In 2017, he hit .271/.302/.451 with 25 home runs and 78 RBI. He has had high strike out numbers in the past, so he will need to make better contact. However, the power potential is there especially in hitter-friendly Miller Park.
As a Brewers fan, it is difficult to see players come to Milwaukee, thrive, and then become too expensive for us to keep. It is difficult to see top-level free agents sign with other teams knowing that Milwaukee would not be able to afford them while maintaining a competitive roster. None of these signings or trades demanded top headlines with the national media, but they did maintain Milwaukee’s competitive makeup (at least on paper). When Daniel Stearns took over, fans expected a five-year rebuild. Milwaukee made the playoffs within two years and then made the playoffs again in year three. It may seem redundant and frustrating, but until proven otherwise: In Stearns we trust.
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