After trading away Jesus Aguilar, the Brewers have been looking for someone who swings a bat right-handed to contribute at first base, particularily against left-handed pitching.
The answer to that so far has been Yasmani Grandal, with Manny Pina catching. That’s had some mixed results, as Pina tends to hit lefties very well (.327/.407/.635 in a limited sample size of 59 plate appearances this year, and .269/.337/.399 for his career), but Grandal’s power production has been lacking in the second half and he isn’t a natural first baseman.
That might explain why the Brewers signed Tyler Austin to a minor league deal today, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Hear that Tyler Austin is signing a minor league deal with the #Brewers— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 13, 2019
With Jesus Aguilar traded to #Rays, #Brewers have used catcher Yasmani Grandal in tandem at 1b with Eric Thames. Austin has road to MLB roster by being RH part of that platoon if Milw decides to call him up. Plus bat off the bench at least when rosters expand in Sept— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 13, 2019
The right-handed Austin hit 17 home runs last year for the Yankees and Twins, but has struggled for most of this season, hitting .187/.283/.403 mostly for the San Francisco Giants, who recently DFA’ed him after trading for Scooter Gennett at the trade deadline.
Austin hit .236/.307/.539 against left-handers last year and .217/.323/.434 against them this year, as opposed to .137/.214/.353 against righties.
That might end up being decent enough as the short end of a platoon to give Grandal more time off to truly rest (and maybe rediscover his power). For now, he’ll get some swings in the minors.
In an interesting coincidence, the signing comes three years to the day of Austin’s debut with the New York Yankees, when he homered in his first Major League at-bat.
That opposite field power might come in handy at Miller Park.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference