Every January, the Milwaukee Brewers host their annual "On Deck" event as a winter warm-up of sorts for the fan base. For a nominal price, fans can come and have the chance to meet and get autographs from players and coaches, participate in Q & A sessions, play games in the interactive kids' area, and browse the extensive collection of clothes and memorabilia that is available. This year's "On Deck" is set to take place on Sunday, January 31st at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee and tickets can be purchased here.
Yesterday, the Brewers announced the list of attendees for this year's event:
Orlando Arcia, Jacob Barnes, Yhonathan Barrios
Michael Blazek, Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton
Chris Carter, Garin Cecchini, Trent Clark
Clint Coulter, Tyler Cravy, Zach Davies
Ramon Flores, Scooter Gennett, David Goforth
Junior Guerra, Josh Hader, Adrian Houser
Jeremy Jeffress, Taylor Jungmann, Corey Knebel
Jorge Lopez, Damien Magnifico, Martin Maldonado
Jimmy Nelson, Shane Peterson, Brett Phillips
Domingo Santana, Tyler Thornburg, Tyler Wagner
Craig Counsell, Darnell Coles, Joe Crawford
Derek Johnson, Marcus Hanel, Jason Lane
Pat Murphy, Ed Sedar, Carlos Subero
Lee Tunnell, Matt Erickson
Don August, Jerry Augustine, Rollie Fingers
Jim Ganter, Larry Hisle, Davey Nelson
Gorman Thomas, Greg Vaughn, Robin Yount
Given the rebuilding direction the Brewers have taken under new GM Slingin' David Stearns, it should come as no surprise that the team has given the "On Deck" event a more future-orientated flavor. Some top prospects were present in years past, but an extensive list of the club's top young talent headlined by Orlando Arcia and Brett Phillips and also including nearly half of the club's top 30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline are scheduled to be present this year.
This will also be the first chance for fans to meet and get a read on new coaches like Derek Johnson and Jason Lane. Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Rollie Fingers headline an impressive list of Brewers' alumni, as well.
When one closely examines the list it's hard not to miss the fact that several prominent veteran names are absent. Matt Garza is not scheduled to attend and he has yet to publicly reconnect with the team since being sent home last September after refusing an assignment to pitch out of the bullpen. His wife did give birth to twins within the last few months, though, so that could be a valid excuse. His goodwill with the fans is probably at an all-time low at this point, anyway, so his attendance could have ended up being a source of distraction at the event.
More notably, the trio of Jean Segura, Khris Davis, and Jonathan Lucroy, also known as the Brewers' most obvious trade candidates, will not be making the trip to Milwaukee for "On Deck." All three have had their names tossed around in trade scenarios this winter but none more prominently than Lucroy, who was again included in a recent Ken Rosenthal report indicating that the Rangers, Athletics, and Nationals have all been in contact with Milwaukee regarding the All-Star backstop.
For what it's worth, Lucroy told Adam McCalvy of Brewers.com that he'll miss the "On Deck" event for the first time in his big league career in order to enjoy some more quality time with his family back home in Louisiana: "The reason why I'm not coming is I have a 5 year old daughter in gymnastics and dance, and it's important for me to spend time with her as much as I can before I leave to get started for the season."
Stearns again told McCalvy that the club has a number of players that continue to generate trade interest, and added that he has discussed the possibly of a trade with Lucroy. Stearns continues to refer to Lucroy as "the type of player we want" regarding Luc's commitment to winning, but also says that Jonathan "understands this is a part of the business."
Lucroy of course came to the Brewers with a long-term extension proposal prior to the 2015 season, only to be turned away by then-GM Doug Melvin. It now seems like only a matter of time until he's traded away, whether it's before the 2016 season begins or perhaps during the July trade deadline. He offered this somewhat frank take on the current state of the Brewers' rebuilding efforts:
"Honestly, the guys we've gotten in return are all young players, so they're not going to make an impact in the big leagues for at least two to three years. Just being realistic, it's going to be tough to be competitive in that division until those guys we have traded for get to the big leagues and we're able to use our full arsenal to compete. That's reality, you know?"