What we learned this week: December 21, 2013

Tom Lynn

This week's lessons include another quiet week in free agency, former Brewers finding work, and a new Miller Park feature.

We're waiting for the Brewers to make some moves.

It has been very quiet for the Brewers this offseason.  Very little has happened in terms of preparation for next season, and we're getting a little anxious waiting for something to happen.  While preparing for this today, I decided to take a look at the transactions page on Brewers.com to see what "official" moves have been made so far this season.  They have 26 transactions listed.  Of those 26 transactions:

- 8 were minor league deals/invites to spring training
- 6 sent players outright to Nashville
- 4 were additions to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 protection
- 3 were DL/restricted list reinstatements

That leaves us with 5 transactions:

- Mat Gamel claimed by the Cubs (now with the Braves on a minor-league deal)
- Elian Herrera claimed by the Brewers
- Burke Badenhop traded to the Red Sox for minor league pitcher Luis Ortega
- Norichika Aoki traded to the Royals for pitcher Will Smith
- Wei-Chung Wang claimed by the Brewers (Rule 5 pick)

It's been a quiet offseason so far, with a couple of trades that generated conversation.  Most of our talk this offseason has been about what the Brewers have not done.  Over the last week, a tracking poll was done in regards to the first base situation, and a majority of people were ok with the Brewers not matching the prices on the options that are off the market now.  Some of the prices paid were high, but with those options gone, the list of available players for first base is getting shorter.  Will the Brewers make a move, or will they stick with their internal options?

The Brewers also face another problem once they do sign someone to a major league deal.  With the 40-man roster full, the Brewers will have to take someone off of it when they do make a signing, meaning that player will be exposed to waivers, or possibly released outright.  On Friday, Kyle looked at some possible options to be outrighted to Nashville or released to clear space.  For now, it's all speculation since there are no pending moves, but it's something to consider when the Brewers do sign someone.

While all we can do is speculate, there are options that become available who look like they could contribute for the Brewers.  A potential option opened up this week when Collin McHugh was designated for assignment by the Rockies, and Kyle profiled him in the Freely* Available Talent series.  McHugh is still in limbo right now as he waits for the Rockies to make a decision, but if he went on waivers, could be a player to claim.  Only four teams (Marlins, Cubs, Phillies, and Mets) would be ahead of the Brewers in claim order, so the Brewers would have a good chance to get him if he did get placed on waivers.

UPDATE: The Astros claimed McHugh off waivers.

Another system that the Brewers can look to for potential free agents is the Nippon Professional Baseball League.  Players get posted from there on a yearly basis, and it's now easier than ever to sign a player from the league.  Earlier this week, MLB & NPB released their new agreement for signing international players, and it's now more friendly than before.  All teams can now negotiate with players, assuming they are willing to pay the release fee for the player.  While it holds potential for the future, the Brewers may not find much this season.  The only player that will be posted is Masahiro Tanaka, and all of the big teams plan to compete heavily for his services.

Former Brewers aren't having trouble finding work.

While the Brewers continue to sit in limbo, other former Brewers are finding work with MLB teams.  This week, two more former Brewers agreed to deals with new teams.  Former relief pitcher John Axford ended up in Cleveland, signing a 1-year deal with the Indians after he was non-tendered by the Cardinals.  The Indians would also have control of Axford's two remaining arbitration seasons, giving them the chance to control him for three years.  Meanwhile, former third baseman Casey McGehee is back in the US after playing one year in Japan, and got a major league deal with the Marlins.  He had success last year playing in Japan and is hoping that success will carry back over to the US.

The Brewers announced a new "Wall of Honor" at Miller Park.

With the Brewers Walk of Fame becoming very hard to crack, the Brewers wanted to find a way to honor players who made significant contributions to the team but didn't make the Walk of Fame.  To do that, they announced the creation of a "Wall of Honor" earlier this week.  This wall will list every player to meet one of seven set criteria, rather than be voted on by a committee.  To start, 58 people will be inducted in the first class, with 7 others to be added after they retire.  This also generated some discussion on who didn't make it.  Kyle looked at a list of these players on Thursday, and also put together a quiz on it (linked below).  Do the criteria need to be expanded?  Some of these players that didn't make it would argue that they do (or at least their fans would argue it).

Brewers History/Minor League Notes

Reviewing the Brew Crew Blasts Series

#4: Davis Destruction
#3: Lucroy Launches

The Collection of Mugs

12/16/2013: An empty stocking
12/17/2013: Gomez and the opposite field
12/18/2013: The second base shift
12/19/2013: Young again
12/20/2013: Workin' through the weekend

Test Your Knowledge

The Thursday Thinker: Name the Wall of Honor

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