CF Tyrone Taylor added to 40-man roster
RHP Joakim Soria declines mutual option, becomes free agent
3B Mike Moustakas declines mutual option, becomes free agent
RHP Jimmy Nelson activated from 60-day disabled list
LHP Brent Suter activated from 60-day disabled list
C Stephen Vogt elected free agency
RHP Breiner Carvajal signed to minor league contract
LHP Angel Perdomo signed to minor league contract
LF Troy Stokes, Jr. added to 40-man roster
RHP Trey Supak added to 40-man roster
LHP Dan Jennings non-tendered, elected free agency
2B Jonathan Schoop non-tendered, elected free agency
LHP Xavier Cedeno non-tendered, elected free agency
2B Jake Hager re-signed to minor league contract, invited to spring training
C Tuffy Gosewich signed to minor league contract, invited to spring training
RHP Deolis Guerra signed to minor league contract, invited to spring training
LHP Alex Claudio acquired in trade with Texas Rangers for competitive balance draft pick
RHP Chris Dula signed to minor league contract
RF Domingo Santana traded to Seattle Mariners for LF Ben Gamel, RHP Noah Zavolas
3B Cory Spangenberg signed to one-year contract
CF Keon Broxton traded to New York Mets for RHP Bobby Wahl, RHP Adam Hill, 2B Felix Valerio
RHP Burch Smith signed to minor league contract, invited to spring training
RHP Jake Petricka signed to minor league contract
C Yasmani Grandal signed to one-year contract with mutual option for 2020
OF Isaac Curbata signed to minor league contract
RHP Zack Brown, RHP Bubba Derby, RHP Jon Olczak, RHP Miguel Sanchez, CF Corey Ray, 3B Lucas Erceg, 2B Nate Orf, 2B Keston Hiura and C Payton Henry invited to spring training
Shortly after the Milwaukee Brewers came up one game short of their first World Series appearance since 1982, general manager David Stearns said the “vast majority” of the roster would return in 2019, although there would be slight changes.
That statement was likely made with the understanding that many, if not all, of the team’s impending free agents — including the likes of Joakim Soria and Mike Moustakas, who held mutual options — would likely not be retained, whether that was due to not having a whole-season spot on the roster or financial reasons.
The offseason indeed started with those two opting out as expected, and Soria eventually signed a two-year deal to join the Oakland Athletics for a total of $15 million. As of this writing, Moose is still unsigned.
The first big decision that faced Stearns was what to do with Jonathan Schoop. When the deal for the free-swinging second baseman was made, the conventional wisdom at the time was that it was a move being made for more than one year, since he still had a year of arbitration left after the 2018 season. Unfortunately, Schoop was so disappointing in his half season with the Brewers there was no way the front office could justify his expected $10 million price tag in arbitration, and they had to cut their losses. Schoop eventually signed a one-year deal with Minnesota for $7.5 million.
By late December, Stearns got the itch for some slingin’. In a bit of an unconventional deal, the Brewers sent their tradeable competitive balance draft pick to the Texas Rangers for lefty reliever Alex Claudio, helping cover the loss of Dan Jennings and Xavier Cedeno in the bullpen.
A perceived logjam in the outfield was also resolved in December and January, about a year after most thought it would, when Domingo Santana was traded to Seattle and Keon Broxton was dealt to New York. Time will tell if the Brewers ended up selling low on Santana, who will still only be 26 this year, but the consistent at-bats for Domingo just didn’t appear to be there and after keeping him in Triple-A for most of 2018, it was likely best for both sides to move on.
Broxton, like Santana, was out of options and that likely spelled the end of his usefulness to the Brewers (as harsh as that may seem). Broxton was one of Stearns’ first diamond-in-the-rough finds, but his streakiness has limited him to a part-time role. While he is an excellent defender, it was hard to see him as much more than a late-inning defensive replacement on a team with Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Ryan Braun. Instead of limiting the flexibility of his bench, Stearns sent Broxton to Queens for a strong return.
In between those two moves, the Brewers found a potential stopgap solution in the infield, signing former Padres first-round pick Cory Spangenberg to a one-year deal. Unless there’s a second base signing sometime soon (or Moustakas returns, moving Travis Shaw back to second), Spangenberg is expected to contribute to the second base mix while also backing up third base and possibly at shortstop and in the outfield.
But much like last offseason, this past winter largely came down to one day. This time, it was the surprise signing of Yasmani Grandal, the best catcher on the free agent who — if we were being honest — seemed unattainable for the Brewers at the start of the offseason. Grandal’s market never truly materialized (there were rumors of him turning down a 4-year, $60 million contract from the Mets, but whether that offer ever actually existed has been disputed), and Stearns swooped in with a deal that is essentially for one year and a higher salary he would have made on his rumored multi-year offers. The contract allows Grandal to hit 20-30 home runs playing half his games in Miller Park and re-test the market next winter if both sides decline his mutual option, and the Brewers get a massive upgrade to one of their weakest offensive positions from the year before.
While today marks the start of Spring Training, if we’ve learned anything over the past couple springs, it’s that the slinging doesn’t stop just because the team is in Arizona. There’s a decent chance that someone who will be on the Opening Day roster isn’t with the organization now, whether that’s one of the plethora of free agents who are still unsigned or someone who gets released from another team at the end of camp.
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