Nieuwenhuis’ DFA was surprising, even though he was hitting just .080/.233/.240 at the time with 15 strikeouts in 30 plate appearances. The move left the Brewers without a true backup to Keon Broxton in centerfield, but did make room on the active roster for Brent Suter, who is also reportedly on his way back to Colorado Springs.
Even though the Pittsburgh Pirates were possibly interested in Captain Kirk as a short-term solution to replacing the suspended Starling Marte, Nieuwenhuis and his impossible-to-remember-how-to-spell name went unclaimed on waivers. Rather than electing free agency, he’s accepting the assignment to Triple-A, even though playing time behind Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell and Brett Phillips may be hard to come by.
Nieuwenhuis’ decision to accept the assignment may have something to do with the fact the “split” contract he signed for this season guarantees him a $257,000 salary in the minors (as opposed to the $900,000 rate he was earning in the majors). While it’s a big cut from what he was making, it’s still significantly higher than what he’d be earning as a regular minor league veteran anywhere else.
Unless the Brewers do something like trade for or claim the recently DFA-ed Leonys Martin, it’s also entirely possible Kirk finds himself back on the big league roster at some point this season, unless the Brewers are just hoping Broxton gets through the next month or so without getting hurt before they bring up one of the prospects. In the meantime, some at-bats in the thin air of Colorado Springs may help him regain some confidence at the plate.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference