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Pitchers and Catchers Report: Former Brewers with New Homes

Old friends in new places.

MLB: NLCS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

As pitchers and catchers report to the newly renovated confines of American Family Fields of Phoenix, it is exciting to think about the potential of the 2019 season to come. Who will emerge to heights not known before? Who will be the stars that carry the team? Who will struggle and be a source of frustration? What will be the moments that become legend in Brewers’ lore?

The 2019 season is on the horizon, and it shows exciting promise. However, before we get into the season that will be, I would like to take a look at former Brewers that landed with new teams in 2019. Some may have helped the Brewers on their amazing run in 2018, while others played for the Brew Crew in years past providing fond, and sometimes not-so-fond memories.

Ex-Brewers from 2018

Wade Miley: Miley was signed to a 1-year, $4.5 million contract with incentives that could pay him more by the Houston Astros. Coming into 2018, Miley was picked off the scrap heap from the Baltimore Orioles where in the previous season he posted a 5.27 ERA and walked 5.3 per nine. The Brewers’ pitching gurus (I sure hope we don’t miss Derek Johnson too much) helped him find his cutter and more command resulting in his strongest season in years (2.57 ERA across 80 23 innings and a reduction in walk rate to 3.0 per nine). Maybe more importantly, that cutter kept hitters off-balance leading to exit velocity against and hard hit contract percentage in the 94th percentile of MLB. The savvy Astros certainly recognized this.

Domingo Santana: In December, the Brewers sent Santana to Seattle for Ben Gamel and Noah Zavolas. Santana was a force for the Brew Crew in 2017 hitting 30 home runs and looking like a future middle-of-the-order bat. He still may be, but not for the Brewers. The ability to hit left him during the first part of 2018, and his power never really materialized. He has shown he can perform well offensively, and it would not be a surprise to see him do it again on a more consistent basis.

Keon Broxton: Broxton was a human highlight reel for the Brewers. In terms of tools, there are few with more. As a 20-20 player in 2017, he looked to be on the precipice of being special. Striking out almost 38% of the time was the only question. In 2018, there was little improvement in that regard. With Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, Broxton became a luxury that would take a 25 man roster spot for the entire season since he had no options. David Stearns traded him to the New York Mets for Bobby Wahl, Adam Hill, and Felix Velerio.

Joakim Soria: Soria signed a 2-year, $15 million deal with the Oakland A’s. Milwaukee traded with the Chicago White Sox for Soria at the trade deadline to shore up its already formidable bullpen for the stretch run. The Brewers gave up prospects Kodi Medeiros and Wilber Pérez in return. For the most part, he was okay. There was the rain delay game against the Nationals, and he had that 18.00 ERA in the NLCS. But overall, he provided serviceable relief innings to the tune of a 4.09 ERA over 26 appearances.

Jonathan Schoop: Schoop signed a 1-year deal for $7.5 million to play his 2019 season with the Minnesota Twins. Controllable for one more season, David Stearns decided to pull the trigger and trade for the power hitting second baseman, sending Luis Ortiz, Jean Carmona, and Jonathan Villar back to Baltimore. Due to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million in arbitration in 2019, Stearns decided to cut ties with the Schoop, who underperformed mightily with the Brewers. The newly minted President of Baseball Operations acknowledged the mistake and moved on from it, quickly.

Curtis Granderson: The Grandyman came to Milwaukee in another trade deadline deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Brewers sent back prospect Demi Orimoloye. The 38 year old, 3-time All-star signed a minor league contract with an invite to major league camp with the Miami Marlins. If he makes the team, he will make $1.75 million with performance incentives that could lead to more. Granderson provided a veteran presence with significant post-season experience off the bench. He would provide that veteran presence for Miami as well, and might be there to mentor old pal, Lewis Brinson. He certainly came up big for the Brew Crew a time or two. He only had 54 plate appearances for Milwaukee, but he did slug .439 with a couple of home runs and memorable triple against the Cubs.

Eric Sogard: Nerd Power will always have a special place in the hearts of Brewer fans. In 2017, Sogard had a respectable .770 OPS, and prior to an ankle injury, was the catalyst for the Brewers offensive attack. Unfortunately he failed to hit at all in 2018 (.134/.241/.165). Those numbers led to his release in July and the signing of a minor league contract. He was eventually released outright in September. The 33 year old middle infielder signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Stephen Vogt: Vogt did not play one inning for Milwaukee in 2018 due to a major shoulder injury. He was a real asset for the Brewers in 2017 slashing .254/.281/.508 from the catcher position for the second half of that season. In 2018, he played the part of good teammate and mentor to younger players. Vogt signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants hoping for a come back from a career threatening injury.

Jordan Lyles: After the Padres let him go to the Brewers for free after a waiver claim, Lyles pitched to a 3.31 ERA and 2.49 FIP in 11 appearances. Lyles spent just enough time in Milwaukee to become a better pitcher. His performance in six appearances in September was a 0.00 ERA and 0.55 WHIP. He parlayed that small sample performance into a 1-year, $2.05 million contract with Pittsburgh. Hopefully, he forgets what he learned as a Brewer, and Ray Searage coaches more two seam usage down in the zone against the Brewers.

Nick Franklin: The 27 year old former first rounder signed a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Franklin played in one game for the Brewers in 2018 where he strained his quad hustling to first on a ground ball. Unfortunately that led to a significant DL stay. The Brewers claimed Franklin off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017.

Mike Zagurski: Zagurski pitched in two games for the Brewers in 2018 giving up seven runs and acquiring a 63.00 ERA. He signed a minor league deal with an invite to major league camp with the Cubs.

Tim Dillard: It was sad to see Dim Tillard leave the Brewers organization. He obviously brought more to Milwaukee and Colorado Springs than baseball performance. Dillard signed a minor league deal with an invite to the Texas Rangers’ Spring Training.

Notable Ex-Brewers from Beyond 2018 with New Teams

Jonathan Lucroy: Lucroy will always be a fan favorite in Milwaukee. During his time with the Brewers, he posted offensive and defensive numbers that catapulted him into the discussion for best catcher in the game. Since being traded to Texas along with Jeremy Jeffress for Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and Ryan Cordell, he has not been the same player. Concussions, age, and the wear-and-tear of the position have probably taken their toll. Yet he is still seen as effective in handling a pitching staff. As a result, Lucroy signed with the Los Angles Angels for a 1-year, $3.35 million deal with incentives.

Jean Segura: Segura was an All-Star for the Brewers in 2013 slashing .294/.329/.423. He looked like he would be the shortstop for Milwaukee for many years to come. After the death of his son, he understandably underperformed in 2014 and 2015. The Brewers traded Segura and Tyler Wagner to Arizona for Chase Anderson, Aaron Hill, and Isan Diaz. Segura led the league in hits (203) in 2016, and became an All-Star again in 2018 for Seattle. As Jerry DiPoto is apt to do, he made a trade in early December involving Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio, and James Pazos. They were sent to Philadelphia for Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford.

Marco Estrada: In the continued effort by the Oakland Athletics to build a team out of former Brewers, they signed Estrada to a 1-year, $4 million deal. Estrada had some success in Milwaukee, but came into his own for Toronto pitching at a fairly high level from 2015-2017. The 2018 season was not as kind to him (5.64 ERA and 1.427 WHIP).

Neil Walker: The 33 year old infielder signed a 1 year, $2 million contract to play in Miami for the 2019 season. Of course, Walker was acquired at the 2017 trade deadline by the Brewers helping them to almost get to the playoffs. He slashed .267/.409/.433 as a Brewer.

Zach Duke: Remember when Zach Duke was a really good pitcher for the Brewers back in 2014? That year he had a 2.45 ERA and a 1.125 WHIP. Of course he parlayed that into a nice contract someplace else. For 2019 he will be a Cincinnati Red earning $2 million for the year.

Mark Reynolds: Reynolds signed 1-year, $1 million minor league deal with incentives and an invitation to Spring Training. The 35 year old has prodigious power, and showed it for the Brew Crew in 2014, hitting 22 home runs that year.

Michael Brantley and Nelson Cruz: While Michael Brantley never made it to Milwaukee, and Nelson Cruz only had 7 plate appearances way back in 2005 for the Brew Crew, it is tempting to dream on what might have been with these two. Brantley is taking his MLB high contact percentage (89%) to Houston, signing for two years and for $32 million. Cruz will take his mammoth power bat to Minnesota to the tune of $14 million for the year.

Other Brewers who signed major league or minor league contracts with other teams for 2019 include: Luis Sardinas - Nationals, Rob Scahill - Cubs, Jake Elmore - White Sox, Rymer Liriano - Mets, Rob Wooten - Reds, Shane Peterson - Dodgers, Juan Centeno - Red Sox.

Derek Johnson and Darnell Coles: It was a surprise to lose the pitching and hitting coaches from the Brewers team that was one game from the World Series. Derek Johnson received accolades from his pitchers, and has become a respected pitching guru among MLB. Cincinnati certainly took notice, and exploited a window of opportunity to negotiate with Johnson and pilfer him away. Coles guided a group of hitters that crushed their way to the NLCS (2nd in NL with 218 home runs and 4th in NL with a .747 OPS). However the Brewers did struggle with runners in scoring position (.246 BA). Coles will take on the same role for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Good luck to all the ex-Brewers heading into 2019, that is, except when you play against Milwaukee!

Baseball statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and Baseball Savant