We’ve spilled a lot of digital ink over the past couple months trying to figure out how the Milwaukee Brewers are going to manage their outfield logjam, and how the plan to get Ryan Braun time at first base could lead to another roster crunch at that position as well.
Just about every scenario involved Jesus Aguilar’s spot on the roster being in jeopardy. But it looks like there’s been one that’s been overlooked — and it’s one the team is considering, according to Adam McCalvy.
In his latest Opening Day roster prediction piece, McCalvy says the fact the Brewers have an early off-day on Easter Sunday has them considering opening the season with four starting pitchers and eight relievers on the roster, opening the door for Aguilar to make the team — at least for the first week of the season.
“There’s value in extending that decision; not having to make it until you absolutely have to,” manager Craig Counsell said.
Brent Suter and Wade Miley have arguably made the strongest arguments for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation this spring, but as McCalvy points out, Suter has two options left and Miley has to be told by next Saturday if he’s making the team or be paid an extra $100,000 as a retention bonus. For that reason, McCalvy is predicting that Miley breaks camp as the #4 starter, and Suter will be summoned once a 5th starter is needed the second time through the rotation.
If the Brewers go that route, the 5th pitcher in the rotation would make his first start of the season on April 6th against the Chicago Cubs.
The team could conceivably start Suter in the minor leagues to start the year, making sure his schedule sets up to allow him to pitch that day on regular rest.
Some creative roster moves could end up further delaying that tough decision on what to do with Aguilar, and it’s always possible the Brewers go back on their plan to carry eight relievers, at least to start the year when everyone is fresh. Counsell told Tom Haudricourt it could almost be a day-by-day decision, depending on what’s needed and what information is available.
Those plans could also change depending on who becomes available as other teams make roster cuts. For example, the Chicago Cubs released potentially useful reliever Justin Grimm Thursday. While Grimm was hit hard last year, he’s carried very good strikeout rates over the past few years, even as he’s struggled with walks.
As for Aguilar, he’s putting together another strong spring campaign, hitting .306/.342/.528 in 36 at-bats over 15 games. He has mashed two home runs, including a late-inning dinger a couple days ago that helped the Brewers win a game against the Rangers.
Even with the glut of 1B/DH types available virtually for free, the amount of team control Aguilar offers even without any options remaining makes it unlikely the Brewers would be able to sneak him through waivers and stash him in Colorado Springs -- where Ji-Man Choi has also made a strong case for a job this spring.
Statistics courtesy of MLB.com