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Brewers Offseason Update: Infielders

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Roster uncertainty abounds for an infield that could see 100% turnover in 2017

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So here's the bad news: the entire infield, including catchers, is projected for just 6.4 fWAR combined next season, according to Steamer. That's a full win less than Paul Goldschmidt, who is actually only a single person, earned in 2015. That's not super great, and it sort of puts to bed any "well maybe if things break right they can be interesting in 2016" talk that might be brewing in your head. If there's a voice in your brain telling you that, tell him to be quiet. Maybe give him a Sudoku to puzzle out for a while.

But there is hope and a real chance that the 2017 Opening Day lineup will not include a single holdover from the 2016 club. Chris Carter is on a one year deal--though he is arbitration eligible the following two seasons--, the middle infield could be replaced by some of Milwaukee's best prospects, third base is entirely up in the air, and rumors of Lucroy's departure continue to swirl as he enters the penultimate year of his contract. So if you don't like what you see below, just relax and wait a year!

C: Jonathan Lucroy (30) - .273/.339/.417, 12 HR, 8.7 BB%, 13.3 K%, 104 wRC+, 2.7 fWAR

1B: Chris Carter (29) - .223/.318/.458, 30 HR, 11.6 BB%, 32.1 K%, 108 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR

2B: Scooter Gennett (26) - .274/.310/.397, 10 HR, 4.5 BB%, 15.9 K%, 87 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR

SS: Jean Segura (26) - .263/.298/.365, 8 HR, 4.1 BB%, 14.3 K%, 76 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR

3B: Garin Cecchini (25) - .241/.307/.351, 1 HR, 7.9 BB%, 22.5 K%, 77 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR

Bench C: Martin Maldonado (29) - .218/.287/.339, 4 HR, 8.0 BB%, 25.0 K%, 67 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR

Bench 2B/SS/3B: Jonathan Villar (25) - .239/.301/.364, 7 HR, 7.8 BB%, 25.5 K%, 79 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR

Bench 2B/3B: Colin Walsh (26) - .236/.324/.346, 0 HR, 11.0 BB%, 24.8 K%, 83 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR

The star of the bunch, as we know, is Lucroy, who is projected for a bounce-back 2.7 win season in 2016. However, the highest OPS projection in the infield actually belongs to Carter, signed last week to a $2.5 million deal. While Carter's K% is sky high, his walk rate is also higher even than Walsh's who walked an astonishing 20% of the time last year, albeit in Double-A with the Athletics. The Steamer projections for both Cecchini and Walsh are low, i.e. Steamer did not project them to get much playing time -- those projections were made prior to the moves that brought each player to the Brewers organization -- so while the ratios are probably on target, the counting stats (including fWAR) are lower than should be expected if these players wind up on the major league roster.

Craig Counsell and David Stearns will have some interesting decisions to make when assembling their infield, and we may yet see some trades that could make the situation more clear. Villar is out of options and basically a lock for the major league bench, as is Walsh, who as a Rule 5 draftee must remain on the 25-man roster. However, each fills a similar defensive role, and the configuration above leaves Milwaukee without a true backup at first base. Cecchini has very limited experience there, and Lucroy has been spending time there on some of his days off behind the plate, so between them they'd likely be able to spell Carter on any off days he may need.

Of course, part of the issue is that there really isn't much going on at the position in the Milwaukee system; Will Middlebrooks has experience on both corners, and he could be an option, but it's probably him or Cecchini, given the presence of VIllar and Walsh. I'll say Cecchini has the inside track on making the Opening Day roster, both because I think he has a higher ceiling at this point (Middlebrooks has had plenty of opportunities to prove it at the major league level) and because he's already on the 40-man roster.

Andy Wilkins, added off waivers from Texas in December, is a first baseman but he's more of an organizational depth option, having spent the the majority of the last three years at Triple-A and posting just a .364 OPS in a short cameo with the White Sox in 2014.

Shane Peterson, who is likely on the roster bubble but remains with the team at this time, also has first base experience.

A handful of corner infielders could compete for Opening Day roster spots or be called upon in case of injury or trade. Hernan Perez, who was resigned to a minor league deal after being DFA'd this off-season, is a non-roster invitee to big league camp this spring, as is shortstop Jake Elmore, a free agent from Tampa Bay. Yadiel Rivera, who might be in limbo in terms of his role with Orlando Arcia ready to take over shortstop duties in Colorado Springs, is also an option for the major league bench, if he's not moved to clear up the roster crunch.

The Brewers catching situation in the upper levels has a number of options now that Josmil Pinto, who was DFA'd for the third time this off-season last week to make room for Carter, has cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Colorado Springs. He'll likely be the starter for the Sky Sox but Manny Pina, who was the PTBNL in the Francisco Rodriguez trade, Rene Garia, and Adam Weisenburger are also in the mix for catching duties at Triple-A.