Friday evening introduced a wave of new players onto the current MLB free agent market as teams made their tender decisions to arbitration eligible players. Many of these players are, from the outside looking in, still relatively useful. We’re taking a look at a few of the top names now available to sign that could help the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019.
First up is the most obvious, Wilmer Flores. Flores is more or less everything the Brewers didn’t have at second base in 2018, he hits but he can’t field. The former Mets second baseman and near Brewer hit .267/.317/.417 with 11 homers, good enough for a 103 wRC+, better than every Brewers second baseman except Travis Shaw. While his defense is rough, the Crew could use him as a transitional piece to one of their two middle infield prospects, Mauricio Dubon or Keston Hiura. The offense is enough to justify playing him for a month or two, assuming his defensive ability doesn’t continue to decline.
Another name to consider for Milwaukee is Shelby Miller. Miller has fallen pretty far from grace since he was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Arizona Diamondbacks. No performance was worse than last year, where he had a 2.81 HR/9 rate; however, there is a glimmer of hope for Miller still. Statistically, Miller had his most success when he relied more heavily on his cutter and sinker. Since leaving the Braves, he has pitched substantially more with his four seamer and almost eliminated the cutter and sinker from his regular repertoire. Meanwhile, his velocity did see a slight uptick over the last two seasons that could give him a 2017 Chase Anderson or 2018 Wade Miley resurgence. If the Brewers were confident in their tape and data, I’d be confident that a change in pitch-mix could help Miller reestablish himself.
Next is corner infielder Matt Davidson. Davidson has great power and can play first and third base with defense that won’t offend. Davidson hits lefties particularly well and could serve as a quality platoon partner for Travis Shaw, on occasion. He isn’t the type of player you’d love playing every day, but he makes consistent hard contact, spreads the ball around the field, and really could be a force if he stopped hitting so many grounders. He needs to substantially cut down on his strikeout rate, which hovers near Keon Broxton levels of bad. Also, Kyle will want me to tell you that he’s a legitimate candidate to be a two-way player. No, that isn’t a joke.
Finally, Brad Boxberger could come through and help the bullpen. Boxberger really has one skill, striking hitters out. Otherwise, he allows a lot of walks and has never been that efficient at keeping opposing teams off the scoreboard. But it’s hard for me not to like a player that has a double-digit K/9 and a near 80% strand rate. If the Brewers could teach him their patented cutter or splitter, maybe they’d have another dangerous weapon working for them in the pen, but he likely won’t take too much of a risk.
We could keep going on and on with fringe players that could make the difference, and we will as the week goes on. For now, here are four players the Brewers could target on the cheap to help their playoff hopes in 2019. Let us know which recently non-tendered players you’d like the Brewers to acquire in the comments.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs