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Previewing Brewers’ Opening Day roster

Ashby, Cousins, Taylor among players to make first Opening Day roster

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

With Opening Day officially upon us, it’s time to take a look at the Brewers’ roster. While the roster had some small changes in the last 24 hours, there are no crazy surprises about who made the roster.

While catcher Pedro Severino will be suspended for the first 80 games, the Brewers made some last-minute trades to shore up the backstop behind Omar Narvaez, adding Victor Caratini from the Padres and Alex Jackson from the Marlins (Note: Jackson will be assigned to AAA ball in Nashville).

Without further ado, here’s the Brewers’ Opening Day roster for 2022.

Catcher (2): Omar Narvaez ($5 million) & Victor Caratini ($2 million)

The Brewers catching situation has changed quite a bit since we published our position preview, they still have Narvaez as the everyday starter. As mentioned above, Severino was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for PEDs. The other two options mentioned in our preview, Brett Sullivan and Mario Feliciano, have been traded to the Padres in exchange for Caratini and sent to AAA to start the season, respectively.

With Narvaez and Caratini, the Brewers should have enough star power behind the plate to perform at least average compared to other catchers in the league until Severino returns. Caratini, the longtime Cub, will be a nice complement to Narvaez to start the season.

First Base (2): Rowdy Tellez ($1.94 million) & Keston Hiura ($700,000)

Before talking about Tellez and Hiura, let me just address that the Brewers will probably utilize a whole bunch of players at the cold corner this year, as Craig Counsell tends to do. Other options here include Mike Brosseau, Jace Peterson and Hunter Renfroe, all of whom will be discussed later in this article. For now, let’s focus on Tellez and Hiura.

Tellez was impressive for the Brewers after being acquired in July from the Blue Jays, finishing with an .814 OPS in 158 Milwaukee at-bats. With Daniel Vogelbach gone, Tellez will be the Brewers regular first baseman and Hiura will have the opportunity to get some playing time against lefties as he looks to have a bounceback season.

Second Base (1): Kolten Wong ($8.5 million)

Wong was a great pickup for the Brewers last season, finishing with career-highs in slugging (.447) and home runs (14). Entering the second year of a two-year deal, Wong will try to avoid the injury bug, as he missed a big stretch early last season from a nagging oblique injury. He’ll play almost every day if healthy and it’s possible options like Peterson and Brosseau will also make appearances at second.

Third Base (2): Jace Peterson ($1.83 million) & Mike Brosseau ($700,000)

With projected starter Luis Urias out to start the season with a strained left quad, the Brewers will have to go with Peterson and Brosseau to start in the hot corner. While Urias will likely be back within a few weeks, the combination of the left-handed hitting Peterson and the right-handed hitting Brosseau should fill the gap until he can make a return.

The Brewers also have Mark Mathias and Pablo Reyes as further depth in the minor leagues, so the Brewers will have plenty of options this season at third base.

Shortstop (1): Willy Adames ($4.6 million)

Without the addition of Willy Adames last May, who knows how the Brewers’ 2021 season would have gone and who knows if Adames would be the player he is today. Adames, who always struggled at Tropicana Field, showed that a change of scenery can completely change a player with potential, as he totaled 20 home runs and an .887 OPS after joining the Brewers.

Adames will be the everyday shortstop once again, but the Brewers also have alternate options in Brosseau and Urias, once he returns. It seems that it’s only a matter of time for prospect Brice Turang gets called up too, and he’ll probably get an opportunity behind Adames at some point this season.

Poll

Predict the Brewers record in 2022

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    100+ wins
    (66 votes)
  • 42%
    94-99 wins
    (260 votes)
  • 38%
    88-93 wins
    (235 votes)
  • 5%
    82-87 wins
    (32 votes)
  • 2%
    81 wins or fewer
    (16 votes)
609 votes total Vote Now

Outfield (4): Christian Yelich ($26 million), Lorenzo Cain ($17 million), Tyrone Taylor ($700,000) & Hunter Renfroe ($7.65 million)

The Brewers have a solid outfield entering the season. After losing Avisail Garcia to free agency and Jackie Bradley Jr. in a trade with the Red Sox (which netted them Renfroe), the Brewers will look elsewhere for production in the outfield. Yelich will hope for a bounceback year, after he finished with a .735 OPS and his power was not there, finishing with just nine home runs.

Cain also had a disappointing 2021 season, but much of that could be attributed to nagging leg injuries throughout the season. He’s still one of the top players defensively in the league and he’ll enter the final season of his five-year contract hoping for more offensive success. Taylor is a solid backup option who could very well be a starter on this team at some point in the near future. After waiting years for his turn, he finally got solid opportunities to play in 2021 and flashed some much-needed power over the course of the year.

Renfroe, who was brought over to help offensively after a disappointing year on the offensive side of the ball for the Brewers as a team, will be key to the Brewers’ success. After finishing with 31 home runs and 96 RBIs with the Red Sox, he’ll look to capitalize on those numbers and replace some of the production lost by the departure of Garcia. He also represents a major defensive upgrade over Garcia due to his cannon for an arm.

Besides the four players mentioned here, the Brewers also have solid options in Hiura and Andrew McCutchen, who will be the team’s primarily DH (see below).

Designated Hitter (1): Andrew McCutchen ($8.5 million)

Longtime-Brewer-killer McCutchen was signed by the Brewers to a one-year deal right after the MLB lockout ended, and he could be a major sparkplug for the Brewers offensively this year. He hit 27 home runs with the Phillies last year and he’s especially good against left-handed pitching, which was a big struggle for the Brewers last year. Lastly, he’s been amazing at American Family Field in his career, albeit as an opponent, so here’s to hoping he can mash at home over a full season.

Starting Pitchers (6): Corbin Burnes ($6.5 million), Brandon Woodruff ($6.8 million), Freddy Peralta ($2.48 million), Adrian Houser ($2 million), Eric Lauer ($2.43 million) & Aaron Ashby ($700,000)

The Brewers starting rotation didn’t change much in the offseason, with free agent Brett Anderson the only real loss and Ashby moving from the bullpen to a potential long-relief/starting pitching platoon role with the expanded Opening Day rosters.

Burnes, Woodruff and Peralta will all look to capitalize on their success from 2021, as they were the main strengths of a Brewers team that finished 95-67 with a bottom-half offense. All three are capable of missing bats and avoiding home runs, but it’ll just be a matter of time to see if 2021 was a fluke.

Houser was a strong fourth pitcher for the Brewers in 2021, finishing with a 3.22 ERA after a dismal 5.30 ERA in the shortened 2020 season. Lauer, who struggled to stay healthy for all of 2021, still finished with a 3.19 ERA and he can be a great fifth option if he stays on the field. Lastly, Ashby was perhaps the most-improved player in Brewers’ spring training, and he can easily be a starter within a few weeks or months. He’s got the stuff to be a regular starter in the majors, and if all five pitchers ahead of him on this list perform well, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Counsell utilize a six-man rotation, especially after a short spring training.

Relief Pitchers (9): Josh Hader ($11 million), Devin Williams ($714,500), Brad Boxberger ($1.75 million), Brent Suter ($2.7 million), Jake Cousins ($700,000), Jandel Gustave ($675,000), Jose Urena ($1.25 million), Trevor Gott ($700,000) & Hoby Milner ($700,000)

I won’t go too in-depth on all of these guys, but I will say that the Brewers have a solid game-lead bullpen, with any combination of Cousins, Suter, Boxberger, Williams and Hader more than capable of getting outs. Gustave, Urena, Gott and Milner are also very serviceable options, and with plenty of minor leaguers available too (Angel Perdomo, Rex Brothers, Miguel Sanchez, Angel Perdomo and Ethan Small), this bullpen could be scary once again.

So there you have it. That’s the Brewers 2022 Opening Day roster, which totals to just north of $112 million in payroll. Now let’s just hope everyone can stay healthy and the Brewers never lose again.