On Sunday afternoon the Brewers announced the most roster transactions of the spring. Outfielders Shane Peterson andEric Young Jr, infielders Jake Elmore and Will Middlebrooks, catcher Josmil Pinto, and pitcher David Goforth have been told they won't make the opening day roster. It wasn't just roster cuts though. OF Ramon Flores and RHP Blaine Boyer have been told they have made the roster.
It was always assumed Ramon Flores would make the roster. He was acquired from the Mariners in exchange for SS Luis Sardinas and it wouldn't have made much sense for Stearns to give up an asset for Flores and then DFA him later. Blaine Boyer is somewhat of a surprise. He was a minor league free agent with an invite to spring training. As such he was not on the 40-man roster and a subsequent move would be required to keep him. That's not an issue however considering the number of injuries the Brewers have seen in camp. Rymer Liriano will likely be placed on the 60-Day DL before the season starts and won't count towards the 40-Man roster. Injuries to other relievers including Will Smith, Sean Nolin, Yhonathan Barrios, and Zach Jones made the bullpen pretty wide open with now 3 spots to fill.
After Boyer there will be two more spots to fill. The current options are Ariel Pena, Tyler Cravy, Chris Capuano, and Franklin Morales. Cravy has minor league options so he'll almost certainly pitch in AAA. Ariel Pena is out of options so he'll have to make the team or be exposed to waivers. Capuano and Morales were signed as minor league free agents and each have opt-outs. Morales needs to be put on the 25-Man roster by Monday or he can opt-out. Capuano has his opt-out on Tuesday. So we'll know what the Brewers decide on them in the next two days.
The final roster battles will be for the final bench spots. OF Keon Broxton, OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF Alex Presley, SS Yadiel Rivera, 2B/3B Colin Walsh, and INF Hernan Perez are in play for 4 spots. At this point, as surprised as I am to be writing this, one of those spots seems likely to go to Keon Broxton who will more likely than not be the opening day center fielder. That would leave a battle between Alex Presley and Kirk Nieuwenhuis for one spot. I'm not really sure who has the advantage, but I will point out that Nieuwenhuis can play center and could make for a natural platoon partner with the right-handed Broxton.
The last battle will be between Perez, Walsh, and Rivera for the final two bench spots. Rivera has minor league options which could count against him. But he's also the best option to back up SS and if it's worth anything, he's crushing in spring training. Walsh is a Rule 5 pick and will need to make the roster or be sent back to Oakland. I think he makes the cut. David Stearns selected him for a reason, and he's done everything he could do during spring training to demonstrate the skills that got him drafted in the first place. I think Perez probably loses out if only because he's signed on a minor league deal without an opt-out. He'll stick around no matter what.
The Brewers have until 11 am CT on Sunday April 3rd to finalize their roster. There's a good chance they'll wait until the last minute to make those decisions. At least with the bullpen we should know by Tuesday what it'll look like. I'm very interested to see how the final two outfield spots shake out.