The World Series ended yesterday, meaning that today is officially the start of the MLB offseason. Several teams around the league made announcements and roster moves, including our own beloved local nine. The Brewers announced this evening that they have outrighted five players from their 40 man roster to AAA.
Outrighted to Triple-A @skysox today: RHP Johnny Hellweg, LHP Cesar Jimenez, C Juan Centeno, 1B Matt Clark and OF Logan Schafer.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) November 2, 2015
Johnny Hellweg came to the Brewers as a part of the package that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels in 2012. The 6'7" righty was the club's minor league pitcher of the year in 2013 after posting a 3.15 ERA in 125.2 innings in AAA, though he carried a FIP of 5.04 and posted just a 89:81 strikeout to walk ratio. He also made his major league debut in 2013, allowing 23 earned runs in 30.2 innings, walking nearly three times as many hitters (26) as he struck out (9).
He had injury troubles in 2014 and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery after making just four appearances. He returned to the mound midseason this year, posting a 6.05 ERA with 39 K and 52 BB in 61.0 innings between AA and A+. At 27 and with no minor league options remaining, Hellweg's career looks to be in jeopardy. One wonders if Milwaukee might've been able to salvage some value from Hellweg by transitioning him to relief, where his glaring control issues might not have been as significant an issue. Perhaps another team will find out.
Cesar Jimenez came to the Brewers via waiver claim this past August, and he posted a 3.66 ERA/3.54 FIP in 19.2 innings in Milwaukee. The 30 year old lefty posted a nice 21:8 strikeout to walk ratio, but he is arbitration eligible this offseason and his roster spot will likely go to a younger, cheaper player.
Juan Centeno was another waiver claim, coming from the Mets last winter. The 25 year old played in 51 games in Colorado Springs this season, hitting a .295/.312/.364 with zero home runs in 187 plate appearances. He spent some time in the big leagues this year while Jonathan Lucroy was on the DL, appearing in 10 games as Martin Maldonado's backup and collecting just one hit in 21 at-bats.
It's kind of hard to not feel bad for Matt Clark, who seems like he's never really gotten a fair shot at making an impression in the big leagues despite an impressive track record. In 800 career minor league games, the lefty-swinging first baseman has slashed .286/.362/.501 with 148 home runs. After years of being stuck behind Adrian Gonzalez in San Diego, Clark finally got his first crack at the show with the Brewers in 2014 and slugged three September home runs in 31 plate appearances. He failed to make the big leagues again this year despite another solid showing in AAA, and he'll likely be hoping for a new opportunity in 2016 as a 29 year old.
Logan Schafer has been a popular punching bag among the fan base since making his major league debut for the Brewers in 2011. The defensive specialist has played in parts of five seasons in Milwaukee since then, slashing a meager .212/.286/.319 in 646 plate appearances. His bat has never belonged in the big leagues, and the club's already crowded outfield picture had little room for the 29 year old who at his best isn't much more than a fifth outfielder.
As Jim Goulart notes, all five of these players will now be eligible to become minor league free agents. In addition to those five, the club also announced that right hander Kyle Lohse has also elected free agency following the expiration of his contract. At 37 and coming off of one of the worst seasons any pitcher had this year, Lohse's best hope is probably going to trying to catch on somewhere on a minor league deal.
With these moves completed, the Brewers 40 man roster now stands at 34. This does not include Jimmy Nelson and Michael Blazek, however, who still need to be reinstated from the 60 day disabled list. This effectively leaves the Brewers with four available spots, which will come in handy as the club faces some difficult decisions about who to protect from the Rule 5 draft this winter.