Why it was just a week ago the Brewers didn't have a single legitimate answer at third base. Now they find themselves with two. At the very least they have two options anyway. First they acquired 3B Garin Cecchini directly from the Red Sox for cash considerations. Now today they have signed 3B/1B Will Middlebrooks to a minor league deal.
The Brewers have signed 3B Will Middlebrooks to a minor league deal. Was non-tendered by the Padres on Dec. 2.— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) December 15, 2015
It's kind of funny. I remember when I first started trying to figure out how the Brewers might be able to trade for Garin Cecchini from Boston. It was a few years ago. It seemed like a fit because at the time he was blocked at the major league level by none other than Will Middlebrooks.
At the time Middlebrooks was their top third base prospect. He had hit 302/345/520 at AA in 2011. Then after initially scuffling in 60 PA during his first exposure to AAA that year, he returned the following season in dynamic fashion. In 100 PA at AAA he hit 333/380677. That got him his first call-up. In 286 PA in his first season at the major league level he hit 288/325/509. Unfortunately here's where his story stops being a good one.
In 2013 he struggled at the major league level. He only hit 227/271/425 in 374 PA. But he did still hit 17 home runs. And in AAA he was much better: 196 PA, 268/327/464, 10 HR. There's power in that bat when he can get too it. But the problem has been just that. He can't seem to get to it in games at the major league level.
In 2014 with the Red Sox he hit 191/256/265. After that season they sent him to the Padres for catcher Ryan Hanigan. He didn't fare any better in San Diego. In 270 PA he hit 212/241/361. He was similarly bad at AAA. On Dec. 2 they DFA'd him and he opted for free agency. And how he's with the Brewers organization.
I have no idea what to expect out of Will Middlebrooks. It hasn't been announced where he'll play but you can safely assume it will be for the Brewers AAA affiliate in Colorado Springs. Perhaps the Sky Sox coaching staff can help him right the ship. He's got an interesting bat if they can. And at 27 years old there's still some time for him to etch out a solid major league career.
There was still some debate about where Garin Cecchini would start his year. He has an option remaining so it is feasible he starts in AAA. Though with no one to block him at the major league level it seemed likely that's where he'd go. Now with a potential 3B option already there it seems all the more likely. Although it should be noted Middlebrooks could play 1B instead.
I really like this signing. It's as no risk as it gets. Minor league deals carry no insurance of making the major league club and those players don't typically have to be added to the 40-man roster unless it's stipulated in the contract. If Middlebrooks can figure things out the Brewers might have some nice insurance in case Cecchini can't. Or they might have a solid first baseman. If Middlebrooks can't figure it out then the Brewers lose nothing.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs