While major league free agency is still over a month away from starting. some minor league free agents are eligible to declare now in preparation for free agency. Yesterday, Kyle went through the list of players who are eligible for free agency both this offseason and each offseason for the next eight years. Today, the first of those players made their decision, as Michael Blazek, David Goforth, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis elected to become free agents.
Michael Blazek was once a top reliever for the Brewers, but has since fallen off of the radar completely. After recording a 3.43 ERA and 3.17 FIP as a reliever in 2015, he broke his hand and missed the last month of the season. He returned in 2016 and wasn’t the same pitcher, posting a 5.66 ERA and 5.71 FIP before being sent down to Colorado Springs. He tried to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster, but failed and started the year in the minors before getting a chance towards the middle of the season. It didn’t go well, as he posted an 8.31 ERA and 10.89 FIP in five appearances (one start). The results were better in Colorado Springs, where he had a 3.71 ERA and 4.13 FIP while working between roles as a reliever and a starer. At 28 years old, he could still catch on somewhere else, though a dip in fastball velocity (94.6 in 2016 to 92.8 in 2017) could spell trouble for him.
David Goforth has been the journeyman reliever for the Brewers in the last few years, making the trip from Colorado Springs often. His numbers were never anything special, though. In 2015, he had a 4.01 ERA and 4.27 FIP over 20 appearances, which is fine for a reliever that can cover innings. Unfortunately, those numbers jumped to a 10.97 ERA and a 6.24 FIP in 2016 over 10 appearances, and the Brewers moved away from him as a result. He was called up once at the start of 2017 and made one scoreless appearance, though spent the rest of the year in Colorado Springs. Over 48 appearances there in 2017, he put up a 3.98 ERA and 5.65 FIP. He will be 29 next season, so there’s still time for him as well, but he may have to prove himself in the minors.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis signed with the Brewers before the 2016 season, and spent most of that year in a platoon role in center field, as well as covering the other outfield spots as needed. He only recorded a .209/.324/.385 battting line with a 90 wRC+ that year, but his defense and OBP kept him around at the major league level for the full year. He was given a chance to earn a job in 2017 out of spring training and did, but the Brewers chose to send him to the minors after a month. He did earn a call-up for a few games in the middle of the season, but in 31 PA covering 16 games, he only managed a .115/.258/.269 batting line (43 wRC+). In Colorado Springs, he wasn’t much better, posting a .244/.361/.361 batting line (94 wRC+) in 84 games.
All three will now get a head start on free agency, hoping to find a job with another team in hopes of getting back to the majors. It will be an uphill battle for all of them, but they still have a chance to make it happen.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.