General manager David Stearns has done a lot of work this week in Orlando, but to this point hasn't seen much to show for it. The Brewers reportedly have multiple offers out, but have either yet to hear back on them or have seen them turned down in favor of more lucrative offers elsewhere.
Much of the Brewers' attention has been on pitching, as part of Stearns' (and Craig Counsell's) new mantra of Finding 27 Outs, wherever they may come from. The Brewers have been rumored to be looking at relievers of all types, and now we have a new name to add to the list.
Minneapolis sports anchor Darren Wolfson says while his hometown Twins aren't in on former Cincinnati and Arizona reliever J.J. Hoover, the Brewers are.
Hoover was a solid member of the Reds' bullpen for years -- he had a 3.34 ERA in 218 appearances between 2012 and 2015 with a 9.1 K/9 -- before totally falling apart in 2016, when he gave up 28 earned runs in just 18.2 innings. He caught on with the Diamondbacks this past season and put up a 3.92 ERA in 52 outings, striking out 54 in 41.1 innings. Despite the strikeout spike, Hoover did struggle with baserunners, allowing 47 hits and walking 26 batters. That inconsistency was enough for Arizona to non-tender him rather than go to arbitration with him this winter.
With so many of the proven high-strikeout relievers on the free agent market already off the board or asking for $7-9 million per year, guys like Hoover might be part of a plan by the Brewers to look for more under-the-radar additions that could prove to be lightning in a bottle. In Hoover's case, he does have a track record of success when he can keep the walks in check. An example -- in 2013, he was used frequently, appearing in 69 games and putting up a 2.86 ERA while striking out 9.1 batters per 9 innings and a career-low 3.5 BB/9.
However, that's spiked to 5.8 BB/9 in 2016 and 5.7 BB/9 last year. Those are the kinds of warts that could make him much more affordable than the Anthony Swarzaks of the world, and maybe pitching coach Derek Johnson could figure out something to help Hoover get back to that 2013 form should he come to Milwaukee.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference