roguejim asks, "Can you handicap the competition for centerfield? Is it really an open competition, or does someone enter spring training on the inside track?"
I'm glad you asked this because I've changed my mind somewhat. For the longest time I've been telling everyone I thought Rymer Liriano had the inside track. Of all the outfielders, he has the highest ceiling and so I figured the Brewers would want to give him the most playing time. However they've been using him mostly in the corners and Craig Counsell has said he considers Liriano more of a corner outfielder. So now I'm not so sure.
If that's true and Liriano is being looked at more as a fourth outfielder, then I would think that gives Kirk Nieuwenhuis the best shot at regular playing time. It's not exciting, but he is by far the best defender of the group. Ramon Flores is in the mix too, but he's probably being looked at in the same way as Liriano. I think it's just those three though. And there's a chance they all make it.
Flores played a game at first the other day. If they feel he can handle the spot maybe one game a week, with perhaps Lucroy taking another, then they wouldn't need a guy like Will Middlebrooks on the bench to act as a back up first baseman. That leaves enough room on the bench for two outfielders: Maldonado, Walsh, Rivera, Flores, Liriano. I could see it going down like that.
@BrewCrewBall how far do you think Stearns will strip down the club before the trade deadline? Is any and all moveable commodity gone?— Keith Anderson (@flootfyre) March 11, 2016
I'll put it this way, any and all moveable commodities are available for the right price. I do think it's possible David Stearns could move any number of players by the trade deadline. But he will only move them if a team matches the price. The franchise only benefits from these trades if they're getting a good return afterall.
The only guy I might consider moving for next to nothing is Matt Garza because he's owed $25 million over the next two seasons with an option for a third year that still has a chance to vest. But even then, there's a chance he could rehab his trade value and get moved for a real prospect or two at the deadline or next winter so it might make more sense to hold onto him. If that option fails to vest it becomes a very cheap team option. So it probably makes the most sense to hold onto him until it becomes clear what that option will become.
But take Lucroy for example. I would argue that he's the Brewers' biggest trade chip. But if no one is willing to pay that price, then hold onto him. They aren't going to be content to just keep him until his contract is up and net the draft pick from the qualifying offer--which now that I think about it may not exist after the next CBA gets negotiated. So there is a point where you trade him for the best you can get. But until you get to that point, there's no reason to do another team a favor and sell low.
That being said I do expect the Brewers will be able to trade Lucroy by the non-waiver deadline. In fact, I still believe there is a strong possibility Lucroy gets moved before the season begins--like in the next week or two. Others I could see being moved at some point include: Chris Carter, Scooter Gennett, Aaron Hill, Ryan Braun, Kirk Nieuwenhuis if he makes the club, Matt Garza, Wily Peralta, Chase Anderson, Will Smith, and Jeremy Jeffress. I don't expect all of them to be traded. In fact the only one I feel pretty sure will be traded is Aaron Hill--and that's only because I think they'd be happy enough to trade him mid-season for salary relief.
And that's actually it. Just the two questions. That's okay though. I get it. There really hasn't been much going on in baseball of late. But things could pick up at any moment so I'll still keep the Mailbag a weekly thing. As always, leave your questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them all!