Now that the World Series has ended, baseball free agency can officially begin. The Milwaukee Brewers announced their departing free agents earlier this afternoon, and in addition to the five players who had their contracts expire and the two that everyone expected to decline their mutual options, another pair of infielders will hit the open market after they passed through waivers. Both Tyler Austin and Cory Spangenberg have been outrighted off the 40-man roster and have subsequently elected free agency.
The lefty-hitting Spangenberg signed a split contract last winter and appeared in line for regular playing time at second base before the late signing of Mike Moustakas. Spangenberg began the year in Triple-A but was outrighted off the 40-man roster in the midst of an early-season slump. He eventually rebounded to bat .309/.378/.498 with 14 home runs and 28 steals in 113 games. That earned Spangenberg a call-up for the final month of the season, and he received pretty regular playing time while spelling Orlando Arcia at short and filling in when both Keston Hiura and Mike Moustakas missed time in September. He came through with some clutch hits early on, but he eventually finished with a .232/.277/.358 slash in 102 plate appearances for a measly 60 wRC+. Spangenberg was projected for a $1.5 mil salary in arbitration this winter, but will now seek a new deal and possibly a clearer path to playing time somewhere else in 2020.
Austin began the year in Minnesota but spent the bulk of the season with the Giants before getting released in August. He signed a minor league deal with the Brewers and after a couple weeks in Triple-A, was brought to Milwaukee as a September call-up. His signature moment was a game-winning home run against the Cubs, and he hit .200/.370/.450 with that lone dinger in 27 plate appearances off the bench. Austin, 28, was arb-eligible for the first time as a Super Two player and was projected for a $1.2 mil salary if the team had elected to retain him.
After all of today’s maneuverings, Milwaukee’s 40-man roster stands at 31 (with Corey Knebel and Bobby Wahl yet to be activated off the 60-day IL).
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs