Up to this point, the cuts the Brewers have made from spring training have been pretty predictable -- top prospects sent to minor league camp for more regular at-bats or minor league starting pitchers who needed innings to stretch out in time for their season openers.
With just a couple weeks left in camp, though, the interesting roster decisions are starting to come in. Today, the Brewers optioned infielder Yadiel Rivera, outfielder Michael Reed and reliever Michael Blazek from the roster. Catcher Dustin Houle and pitchers Andy Oliver and David Goforth were also reassigned to minor league camp. Joba Chamberlain and Ryan Webb, both in camp on minor league deals, were released.
According to Tom Haudricourt, Rivera is being sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs in order to get him consistent at-bats, as opposed to serving as a second utility infielder in Milwaukee. The soon-to-be 25-year-old hit .227/.262/.322 in 83 games with the Sky Sox and .212/.235/.273 in 35 games with the Brewers last year. With Rivera out of the picture, the chances of Scooter Gennett making the 25-man roster in his newfound utility role seem a bit better, although non-roster invitees Eric Sogard and Ivan DeJesus, Jr. are still in big league camp.
Reed had an outside chance to make the 25-man roster as a 5th outfielder, but as camp wore on, it was clear Counsell thought he had more to prove. Despite the high altitude in Colorado Springs, Reed struggled to hit for much average or power in 2016, putting up a .248/.366/.365 line.
Reed also finds himself in the unfortunate situation of falling behind the prospect triumvirate of Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell and Brett Phillips. When it was annonced last week that the trio would all be sent to Triple-A, things didn't look good for Reed. It turns out it was an even tougher situation than first thought -- the Brewers are optioning Reed down to Double-A instead of sending him back to Colorado Springs.
Blazek has also had a disappointing showing this spring, and it looks like it has cost him his spot in the Brewers' bullpen, at least for now. The poor spring follows a bad season in which he was rocked for a 5.66 ERA in 41.1 innings last year, thanks in large part to a 5.9 BB/9 that meant he was constantly working with runners on base.
According to Tom Haudricourt and Adam McCalvy, despite a year of poor performance, Blazek was still blindsided by the cut.
Among several #Brewers relievers being cut this morning is RHP Michael Blazek. "I'm not happy about it," he said.— Tom (@Haudricourt) March 22, 2017
While Blazek may have been surprised by his demotion, the actual surprise of the day was Chamberlain’s release. Trying to make another comeback after not pitching since last July, Chamberlain posted a 3.38 ERA in 8 innings for the Brewers this spring, but only struck out two batters and had a 1.88 WHIP. Apparently, the release is coming as a courtesy for the veteran righty:
Craig Counsell said Joba Chamberlain released because too many pitchers ahead of him and wanted to give chance to look elsewhere.— Tom (@Haudricourt) March 22, 2017
Counsell said it was determined Chamberlain wouldn't make 25 man roster so best to make move.— Tom (@Haudricourt) March 22, 2017
Webb was cut loose after only making three appearances this spring. With today’s cuts, only a handful of non-roster invitees remain in major league camp, which now includes 34 players total.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and MLB.com