We’re now under a week away from Opening Day, and the roster for our local nine is now coming into more clear focus. Earlier today we learned that the Brewers lost Scooter Gennett on waivers to the Reds after he was told he wouldn’t have a clear path to playing time with Milwaukee. On the flip side, the club announced this evening that first baseman Jesus Aguilar will indeed make the Opening Day roster.
1B Jesús Aguilar (.463, 6hr, 16rbi) has been informed that he will be part of the Opening Day roster. @JAguilarMKE— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) March 28, 2017
Aguilar was claimed off waivers in early February from the Indians and given a 40 man roster spot in spite of the fact that the 26 year old not only lacks position versatility as a first base-only type player, but is also out of minor league options. The right-handed hitter has a solid offensive track record in AAA (.271/.346/.472, 68 HR in 386 games) and boasts above-average power, but he had looked overmatched in three previous stints at the big league level, posting a meager .424 OPS while striking out 21 times in 64 plate appearances. In order to win a roster spot out of camp, Aguilar would need to prove that his bat could be of value off the bench while occasionally spelling Eric Thames at first base.
That’s exactly what Jesus has done this spring, batting .463/.525/.870 in 54 at-bats with a team leading 6 home runs. He’s shown enough at the plate that the club has begun experimenting with Eric Thames in the outfield in order to find ways to get Aguilar’s bat in the lineup more frequently. This will be Aguilar’s first time making an Opening Day roster after spending the last nine years in Cleveland’s system. It will now be incumbent upon Aguilar to prove in the season’s early going that he’s not simply this year’s version of Brad Nelson.
The Brewers also reportedly informed Ivan De Jesus, Eric Sogard, and Rene Garcia that they will not make the roster out of camp, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Andrew Susac will begin the season on the disabled list (additionally, De Jesus has an out clause in his minor league deal that he can exercise if another team is willing to give him a 25 man roster spot). That means the Brewers will almost assuredly enter the season with the following group of position players:
Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana
Eric Thames, Jonathan Villar, Travis Shaw, Orlando Arcia, Manny Pina
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Hernan Perez, Jesus Aguilar, Jett Bandy
If that hold true, it’ll mean the Brewers begin the season with just 12 position players and 13 pitchers. The club has yet to announce who their final three starters will be (perhaps indicating that a trade is being worked on?) and haven’t yet made the final decisions in the bullpen, either. Of course, there is always still the possibility of an outside addition, and David Stearns has said the club has “a lot of balls in the air, both internall and externally.” We should certainly know within the next few days, of course.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and MLB.com