As Spring Training gets closer by the day, most teams are finished with their big offseason moves and are preparing for camp. Jim Bowden came out with his offseason grades based on all of those moves, and his opinion on the Brewers offseason wasn’t very good. He gave them a C-, the lowest grade of any team in the NL Central and 2nd lowest in the National League.
Bowden’s negative opinion on the Brewers mostly revolves around their decision to non-tender Chris Carter and take a gamble on a three-year deal with Eric Thames. He says that the Brewers were “scared” about how much Carter would get in arbitration, which is why they non-tendered him. This is a stretch, considering where the Brewers payroll is right now. It’s true that the Brewers likely didn’t see Carter as worth what he would make, but to say they were “scared” of it is a big leap. The move was more about what Carter’s true value was versus being concerned about his impact on the payroll.
Meanwhile, the acquisition of Thames is a “huge risk” because his production may not transfer over and his original stats in the majors were not very good. These are fair points on Thames. There’s definitely no guarantee that the stats carry over, and his previous MLB results don’t give a lot of encouragement. However, it’s a risk that the Brewers can take at this point. If the results do translate over, the Brewers have a great first baseman at a bargain. If not, they didn’t commit so much for him that they are prohibited from other moves. It’s an acceptable risk for a rebuilding team.
Bowden does give the Brewers credit for the Tyler Thornburg trade, saying that the players acquired should help with the rebuild. However, he also docks the Brewers for not acquiring “elite prospects” this offseason. It’s true that the Thornburg deal didn’t bring back top prospects, but it was a good return despite that. Also, while this has been a quieter than Stearns’ first one, if the deals weren’t there during the offseason, it’s better that he didn’t try to force something through for the sake of making a deal.
He also decided to mostly ignore the signing of Neftali Feliz, as well as some of the smaller moves he’s made this offseason to try to find a diamond in the rough. The C- is a little low for a grade, a C+ or C would better represent what they did this offseason. No blockbuster moves, just smaller ones to continue in the rebuilding process.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals led the rest of the NL Central in grades with a B for their offseason moves. The Cubs received a B-, Reds a C+, and the Pirates also got a C-. In the National League as a whole, the Dodgers were the only team to receive an A, while the Padres bottomed out the league with a D. Meanwhile, in the American League, the Red Sox and White Sox led with A grades, and the Tigers were the only team to get an F.