When the Brewers traded Zack Greinke to the Angels they got back Jean Segura, of course. They also got two intriguing flamethrowers in Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena. Neither has worked out quite so well. In the most recent transaction for the low key Brewers, Ariel Pena has been outright to AAA Colorado Springs. With this roster move the Brewers 40-man roster now stands at 39.
The move is not surprising to anyone paying attention to Pena's career trajectory. While he possess big time velocity and a solid slider, his command is well below average. He spent back-to-back seasons from 2012-2013 in AA. In 2014 he pitched in AAA. The strike outs were there and for the most part he missed bats, but his walk rates were absurd.
His fate was sealed when at the end of the season he suffered some kind of elbow injury. It forced him out of participating in the AFL. In his place went left handed reliever Mike Strong, who performed quite well and subsequently was placed on the 40-man roster in anticipation of the upcoming Rule 5 draft. One has to wonder how differently this offseason would have gone had it been Pena who succeeded in the AFL.
As it stands, the 25 year old' career has taken a nosedive but is far from over. It's entirely possible, like so many before him, that a transition to to relief will put his career back on a path that leads to the major leagues. For now we'll have to hope his elbow injury isn't too severe. Though it might be that injury that keeps him in the Brewers organization. By that I mean perhaps it may scare off any potential interest during the Rule-5 draft.
This also leads me to my next point of discussion. The Brewers now have an open roster spot. They're certainly going to need to add at least 1 reliever to the major league roster. There are no signs that anything is imminent, but the Winter Meetings are on the horizon and that's where a lot of trades are made and free agents signed.
The meetings start Monday December 8th and end Thursday December 11th. They're capped off by the Rule 5 draft. It'll be very interesting to see where they Brewers are in their pursuit of a reliever at that time. One of the most drafted types of players in the Rule 5 are pitchers because they can be stashed in bullpens. This is exactly what the Brewers did last year with Wei-Chung Wang.
I have a hard time believing the Brewers will attempt to do the same thing (draft a young SP with upside, stash him in the bullpen, and wait for a mysterious injury to sideline him for months on the DL). However, there are probably going to be some interesting relievers that have a chance to stick in a major league bullpen right now.
In the meantime, let's all wish Ariel Pena a speedy recovery and hopefully a move to the bullpen.