As we reported earlier today, the Brewers have claimed center fielder Kirk "Great Now I Have to Learn How to Spell" Nieuwenhuis. He's a left handed hitting center fielder with four years of team control. He's not much of a hitter but he is a plus defender. He'll compete with Keon Broxton in spring training but likely has the inside track as the Brewers starting CF as Broxton has minor league options remaining. Kyle has more information for you here.
But the Brewers weren't done there. Not by a mile:
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis (NYM), C Josmil Pinto (SD) and 1B Andy Wilkins (TEX) have been claimed off waivers. The 40-man roster is at capacity.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) December 23, 2015
So yeah, that's a lot going on there. For one thing, the Brewers 40-man roster is now full up. That's not necessarily important in and of itself. But if they want to add someone to the roster, now they'll have to clear space. That probably doesn't bode well for Shane Peterson as the Brewers are in possession of a number of 4th outfielder types. Of course a trade could make space as well...
Josmil Pinto has spent his entire career with the Twins. At 26 years old he has limited major league service time and can be controlled for the full 6 seasons. He actually saw a good deal of success in the minors. From 2012-2014 he was a well above average hitter in the minors. He enjoyed a modicum of success at the major league level as well combining to hit 257/339/445 in 280 plate appearances across two seasons (2013-2014). He took a step back in 2015 though.
Pinto has always been considered a bat first catcher so it will be interesting to see how the Brewers use him.
I believe he has one minor league option remaining. So it's possible if not likely he is going to be AAA Colorado Springs starting catcher. If nothing else, he provides the Brewers with some much needed depth a catcher. (EDIT: I was incorrect. He does not have an option remaining so the Brewers will either have to keep him on the 25-man roster or try to pass him through waivers--which is something the Twins and Padres already tried this offseason)
Also, I feel I have to mention he hasn't spent much time anywhere but catcher so it seems somewhat unlikely that he'll be an option at first base. Though perhaps he could serve in a capacity similar to when Lucroy and Maldonado spent some time at first in addition to catching games.
Andy Wilkins, on the other hand, has spent his entire career at first base. The 27 year old left hander has had very limited exposure to major league pitching with only 45 plate appearances at that level all coming in 2014. He hit 30 home runs at AAA that season.
Here's what FanGraphs had to say about him entering the 2015 season:
[He] got a big league cup of coffee this year after hitting 30 homers in AAA; has above average raw power but is stiff enough most scouts have him as a 4-A bat
He took a step back in 2015. While playing for the Blue Jays and Dodgers AAA affiliates he hit a combined 251/315/447 with 15 home runs. It's hard to see the point of the waiver claim except to add depth at a position of weakness. Since Wilkins has minor league options I would expect it's more likely he spends time in Colorado Springs than Milwaukee. But at this point he's not blocked by anyone. So he'll likely get a chance to win a job in spring training.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis is a quality defender in center field and could very well be the most likely to win the starting job out of spring training. Andy Wilkins reminds me of Matt Clark. So now BCB has a new favorite first base underdog. But, as often is the case with waiver claims, today's "action" is more interesting not on it's own virtue but for what it may portend. Adding a third catcher--one without minor league options remaining--would make it easier to part with Jonathan Lucroy, for example. The 40-man roster is now full. But it's not going to remain intact as is. This winter is far from over.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs
Contract and service time information courtesy of Cot's Contracts