The Brewers have claimed third baseman Matt Dominguez off of waivers from the Astros, the team officially announced on Twitter. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, Milwaukee designated Wei-Chung Wang for assignment.
The Brewers are optioning him to Triple-A right away so, unlike when they claimed Hernan Perez from the Tigers, you won't be seeing him on the major league roster yet.
When I googled Matt Dominguez, the second link (his Baseball-Reference page is first) is this Beyond the Boxscore article from February titled "The worst player in baseball, and why he still has a job" so that's a good sign right off the bat. The URL on that is "the-end-of-matt-dominguez-houston-astros-bad-baseball". Yeah.
Dominguez, who is still just 25, has not played in the majors this season. The past two years, he has been the Astros starting third baseman and has hit .228/.271/.366, but launched 37 homers over that time. In 45 Triple-A games this season, he has hit .251/.289/.371 with four home runs.
Once a first-round draft pick and twice named a top-100 prospect by Baseball America, Dominguez has never really hit that well in the minors, either. His one good season was in 2008, in A-ball, when he hit .296/.354/.499. Here are his year-by-year OPS's in the minors:
2007: .429 (15 games)
2008: 853 (88 games)
2009: .724 (134 games)
2010: .744 (138 games)
2011: .714 (95 games)
2012: .682 (123 games)
2015: .6660 (45 games)
None of those, for a prospect, seem especially appealing. Maybe if he were a shortstop with a great glove. Or, like..maybe if those were his batting lines and he was also a great pitcher. OPS is a very simple way to look at it, but go look at the BtBS article for all the ways in which Dominguez has been bad.
Dominguez was supposed to be a great defensive third baseman, which would have helped him maintain some value. The fact he's capable of 20+ homers in the season would couple with that to make him not the worst. This is what Kevin Goldstein once said about him:
Dominguez is one of, if not the best defensive third baseman in the minors. He has outstanding instincts, soft hands, silky-smooth actions, and a plus arm.
More recently, Dominguez has been not that. Fangraphs has him at negative defensive value the past two years. Fangraphs also has him at -2.1 WAR in 2014, by the way. Really, he's probably been closer to average at the hot corner. Maybe a little below. But average or a little below means he needs to hit and he doesn't do that very well, clearly.
So why did the Brewers claim him? I can think of four reasons:
1. Milwaukee doesn't really have any long-term option at third base right now, so they are trying things in case something sticks. Jason Rogers can hit a little, but can't play defense. Dominguez can maybe play defense but can't hit. If they can combine the two into one sentient being, they might have an alright player.
2. He's being optioned to Triple-A right away, so he's just minor league filler. The Sky Sox have used three difference guys primarily at third base and none have been very good. Dominguez probably has more potential than them, so why not give him a shot.
3. Aramis Ramirez is going to be traded soon, so the Brewers are bringing in someone who could theoretically help replace him if/when that happens.
4. This is the same front office that acquired Yuniesky Betancourt. Twice. Especially the second time, they did so willingly. Betancourt isn't in professional baseball anymore, so why not go after a spiritual successor? Dominguez's only positive at the plate is decent power. He isn't great at defense, apparently. And he's been called the worst player in baseball. Yuni 2.0. Or maybe Luis Jimenez 2.0?
But the Brewers have nothing really to lose here, honestly. They have Wei-Chung Wang to potentially lose on waivers, I guess, but he's been really bad in Brevard County this year which doesn't lend much optimism. If Dominguez doesn't do well this year and costs the Brewers a game or two, what does it matter? There's a slim chance he lives up to what people thought he could be, and the Brewers will need a third baseman when Aramis Ramirez retires after this season, or is traded in the next month.
Matt Dominguez probably won't be that guy, if history is any indication. Why not find out, though? There isn't much harm he can do while in Triple-A.