Slingin' David Stearns is at it again, giving us all an early Christmas present in the form of another option in center field.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis to #Brewers on a waiver claim.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 23, 2015
Kirk Niewenhuis was originally drafted by the Mets in the third round of the 2008 MLB Draft. He made his major league debut with New York in 2012 and has spent the last four seasons bouncing back between the majors and minors, serving mostly as a fourth outfielder at the big league level. He was purchased from the Mets by the Angels back in this past May only to return to New York on a waiver claim roughly two weeks later. He now joins his third organization in the Brewers at age 28.
Niewenhuis' offensive track record at the big league level has been inconsistent, to say the least. The left handed hitter has about average power (17 home runs in 693 PA) and strikes out an awful lot (31.5% career K rate), but he also draws his share of walks. He holds a career .232/.306/.389 slash line across 273 career games, good enough for a roughly league average 95 wRC+. He has been valued at 2.5 fWAR during his time in the big leagues. Niewenhuis is coming off a season in which he posted an 81 wRC+ in 141 plate appearances.
His value to the Brewers comes more in his defensive prowess, as he is has shown he is a versatile outfielder who can capably handle duties in center field. Of his 202 major league defensive appearances, 105 have come in center, where he has posted a solid 3 Defensive Runs Saved in 723.2 innings. He's also been rated as an above-average fielder in left and is capable of handling right field, though his experience there is much more limited.
Niewenhuis offers four years of team control. The 2016 season will be his final pre-arb season. After that he'll enter the first of three arb-eligible seasons. He will be eligible for free agency after the 2019 season.
The Brewers recently acquired Keon Broxton from Pittsburgh and as the roster currently stands, he and Niewenhuis figure to battle in spring training for at-bats in center field. Broxton does have minor league options remaining. The Brewers 40 man roster now stands at 38.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs