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Brewers history shows success in finding deals late in off-season

Though the Brewers haven't had a lot of action so far this off-season, their recent history shows success in finding deals after the New Year.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers have had a fairly quiet off season thus far, that much is for certain. Since acquiring first baseman Adam Lind in a trade, Milwaukee has mostly sat on their hands the past two months, leaving us to overanalyze rumors of interest in players like Allen Craig.

But that's not to say the Brewers' off season is completely over, of course. The team could use some help in the bullpen yet, and could stand for upgrades on the bench as well. The Brewers and GM Doug Melvin have never had qualms about waiting until later in the off season to find deals, however. In fact, each of the last few years have seen the Brewers find important players after the New Year begins.

January 15, 2014: Signed Zach Duke
January 17, 2014: Signed Mark Reynolds
January 20, 2014: Signed Lyle Overbay
January 26, 2014: Signed Matt Garza
February 7, 2014: Signed Francisco Rodriguez

Three of the five in the 2013/14 off season came in via minor league deals, though Reynolds was virtually assured of a roster spot. Overbay, too, seemed likely while Duke pitched his way aboard and found a big multi-year deal this year based on his performance in 2014. Garza came as a big surprise, but with his price dropping the Brewers saw an opportunity and took it. Rodriguez was the same way, agreeing to a one-year deal.

All five of these players saw major roles in 2014, with Garza, Duke and Reynolds all provided nice value. The Overbay/Reynolds platoon wasn't great, but the two combined for 136 of the team's starts at first base in 2014.

January 7, 2013: Signed Michael Gonzalez
January 31, 2013: Signed Alfredo Figaro
February 6, 2013: SIgned Alex Gonzalez
March 25, 2013: Signed Kyle Lohse
March 27, 2013: Signed Yuniesky Betancourt

The Brewers weren't quite as fortunate towards the end of the 2012/13 off season. Kyle Lohse proved to be a great pick-up, even if it did cost Milwaukee a first round draft pick. The other four though? Yeesh. Both Gonzalez's and Betancourt were anti-fan favorites, while Figaro was more of an afterthought. Still, all saw a fair amount of playing time in 2013, for better or worse.

January 9, 2012: Signed Brooks Conrad
January 17, 2012: Signed Norichika Aoki

This was perhaps the most quiet post-new year off season in recent history for the Brewers, but winning Aoki was big for the Brewers. For one, they got Aoki on a cheap (two years, $2.5 million with a third year option) deal. Aoki ended up hitting .286/.355/.399 in two years with Milwaukee while stealing 50 bases.

The Brewers winning the posting bid on Aoki also showed that they could go out and get international players when they deem it worthwhile. That's good to see, because any avenue for acquiring players should be open. The Brewers came close for Jose Abreu last year, as well, and signed Gilbert Lara to the biggest international bonus of any player in franchise history. Aoki may have been the first of a new push to look internationally for talent.

January 5, 2011: Signed Takashi Saito
February 4, 2011: Signed Mark Kotsay
March 27, 2011: Traded for Nyjer Morgan

All three players here contributed often, for better or worse. Saito pitched in 30 games, posting a 2.03 ERA and 3.40 WHIP. He didn't see a ton of playing time in his age-41 season, but was highly effective when he was in.

Nyjer Morgan came just before Carlos Gomez broke out and became a star. Morgan ended up being the primary starting center fielder in 2011 while working a semi-platoon with Gomez. He hit .304/.357/.421 while delighting his fans with his interviews. He also started the 'throwing up the T' trend, a tribute to his gentlemanly alter-ego, Tony Plush.

Kotsay was a favorite of rookie manager Ron Roenicke. He wasn't terrible, with a .703 OPS, but ended up being misused by Roenicke and thus became disliked by much of the fanbase. His poor play in the NLCS contributed to the Brewers missing out on a World Series appearance that year.

The 2009-2010 offseason had it's share of acquistions, as well, with Jim Edmonds and Marco Estrada among those who joined the organization after the new year came.

Recent history shows that the Brewers will still likely have plenty to come in 2015 as they continue to build for another push to the playoffs. Though Milwaukee hasn't had the early splash of the Cubs, they still are poised to compete with Chicago, St. Louis and Pittsburgh in what will be a tough NL Central next year. There will almost certainly be a couple other players who will be around to help with that.