Brewers, Alex Wilson finalize $750,000, one-year deal

The Milwaukee Brewers have finalized a $750,000, one-year contract with reliever Alex Wilson. The deal includes $825,000 in performance bonuses.

In six major league seasons, the 32-year-old right-hander has a 3.23 ERA.

It’s a concerning time for the Brewers’ bullpen as two of their top relievers are dealing with injuries. Corey Knebel is out indefinitely with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He’s expected to join Jeremy Jeffress (shoulder) on the injured list to open the season.

“It just means somebody else is going to step up, and there’s plenty of arms in here to do it,” Wilson said. “A lot of times, guys just need an opportunity.”

Wilson made his spring training debut for the Brewers on Monday.

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Brewers option Adrian Houser and Jacob Nottingham

The start of the MLB season is almost here. The Milwaukee Brewers made some roster moves with only about a week to go before opening day.

Right-hander Adrian Houser and catcher Jacob Nottingham were optioned to minor-league camp. Also, right-handers Miguel Sanchez and Burch Smith and infielder Jake Hager were reassigned to minor-league camp.

Houser is expected to make an impact on the major league roster this season. He had a solid spring training going 1-0 with a 2.16 earned run average in seven appearances (8 1/3 innings) with seven strikeouts in Cactus League play.

Manager Craig Counsell indicated that Houser will bounce back and forth between the minors and majors this season. Houser is a versatile pitcher who could see time as a starter and reliever.

I think if you look at seasons like Brent Suter, like Brandon Woodruff, that’s likely to be what Adrian’s season is going to look like.

Nottingham is unlikely to see significant time in the major leagues this season with the addition of Yasmani Grandal. That could be a blessing in disguise for the 23-year old catcher as he should get a full season as the starter in Triple-A. This could give him a big boost coming into the 2020 season.

Brewers reliever suffers torn ACL

It was all about the bullpen for the Milwaukee Brewers during last season’s run. They had so many arms step up in big moments. This season, they added to that stacked pen with hopes of repeating their 2018 success.

One of those new names however will likely miss the 2019 season. Hard-throwing righty Bobby Wahl managed to tear the ACL in his right knee while throwing a pitch Friday against the Mariners.

It’s a rare occurrence for a pitcher to tear his ACL while throwing a pitch. Wahl’s injury is one of the rarest in MLB history. According to GM David Stearns, Wahl is only the third pitcher in MLB’s central injury database to tear the ACL in his push-off knee.

The Brewers added Wahl in early January from the Mets in exchange for OF Keon Broxton. MLB.com currently ranks him as Milwaukee’s 26th best prospect.

Stearns did not give a possible return date, but a torn ACL will likely keep Wahl out for the entire season. If rehab goes well, he could be on the Brewers’ radar as a September call-up.

Lawrie officially returns to Brewers, won’t participate in spring training

The Milwaukee Brewers officially announced Brett Lawrie’s minor-league deal on Sunday. Lawrie announced his return to the organization on Instagram about two weeks ago. The minor league deal included a team option for a second year.

According to David Stearns, Lawrie won’t participate in spring training. He simply isn’t in baseball shape after being out of Major League Baseball since 2017.

Brett’s undergone a really comprehensive performance evaluation. The plan right now is that he will spend the next six weeks here really not doing baseball activities but putting his body in the best position to succeed going forward.

It’s a long period, but we’ve got time. There’s no rush here. This is a player who hasn’t played in the major leagues for two years, and he recognizes that there’s a significant amount of work to be done before he can get back on the field, and then progress to baseball activities.

It may take a while for Lawrie to return to action, but he seems committed to making this comeback work at the age of 29. In 588 games in the majors, he is a career .261 hitter with a .315 on-base percentage, .734 OPS, 71 home runs and 253 home runs.

It’s a low-risk, high-reward move for the Brewers.

Brewers sign Moustakas to one-year deal

The Moose is back. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Milwaukee Brewers have signed free-agent Mike Moustakas to a one-year deal. There is a mutual option on a second year. Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 (108 OPS+) with 28 home runs overall for the Royals and Brewers in 2018.

The Brewers acquired Moustakas from the Royals at last year’s trade deadline in exchange for OF Brett Phillips and RHP Jorge López. The move forced manager Craig Counsell to move Travis Shaw to second base.

Counsell wants to see this Spring Training if Moustakas can play second base.

Another thing to remember is that the Brewers will now not need to rush their top prospect, Keston Hiura, to the big leagues. The deal gives GM David Stearns flexibility for another season while Hiura continues his development.

Milwaukee came within one game of the World Series last season. The goal is to get there this season and Moustakas can help them do it.

Brewers sign pitcher Jay Jackson

The Milwaukee Brewers have signed Jay Jackson to a minor-league deal. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the deal will be for $1 million if Jackson cracks the major-league roster.

The 31-year old right-hander spent the last three seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball and became one of the league’s top relievers.

Manager Craig Counsell said Jackson will compete for a spot in the bullpen.

He’s been pitching in Japan. He wanted to come back so he’s a candidate in our bullpen. We thought highly of things that we saw from him in Japan and so with him coming back there is a fit.

The Brewers will hope Jackson can mirror the success of their last overseas signing, Eric Thames.

Brewers sign INF Brett Lawrie

2B/3B Brett Lawrie has been out of Major League Baseball since the end of the 2016 season. However, he is getting a chance to make a comeback.

On Saturday, Lawrie announced on his Instagram page that he has signed with the team that drafted him – The Milwaukee Brewers.

“I’m so ecstatic for this opportunity of a lifetime and I cannot thank the Brewers enough for believing in ME when no 1 else would,” Lawrie wrote in a lengthy post.

The Brewers took Lawrie in the first round (16th) of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft.

According to Robert Murray of The Athletic, the Brewers’ agreement with Lawrie is a minor-league deal with a club option for 2020. The potential max value of the contract is $7 million.

Brewers: Three roster spots for five players

The Milwaukee Brewers nearly have their opening day roster set. They currently have three spots available, with five players vying for those last few spots.

The players still trying to make the team are pitchers Oliver Drake, J.J. Hover and Taylor Williams, along with first basemen Jesus Aguilar and Ji-Man Choi. The Brewers and general manager David Stearns have until March 28th to finalize the roster.

Drake and Aguilar are out of options and would have to be placed on waivers before being reassigned to Triple-A Colorado Springs or cut. Both would likely be claimed off waivers by other teams.

Williams still has an option available and therefore there wouldn’t be any consequences for sending him to the minors to start the season.

Hoover and Choi are a different story, being non-roster invitees, who signed minor league deals with Milwaukee. Both players would need to be added to the Brewers 40-man roster, which only has one spot available after Milwaukee officially cut Yovani Gallardo on Monday.

Choi and Hoover could be assigned to Colorado Springs with no consequences. The Brewers would also have another spot available if pitcher Jimmy Nelson starts the season on the 60-day disabled list.

What I think happens

Drake, Hoover, and Aguilar make the opening day roster. Drake and Aguilar are currently already on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster. Hoover would then take Gallardo’s spot, which would allow the Brewers to be flexible with monitoring Nelson’s rehab.

Choi would fall victim to the depth at the first base position. In 41 at-bats this spring, Choi batted .390 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. He proved that he could make most major league teams as a backup first baseman, but finds himself behind Ryan Braun, Eric Thames, and Aguilar.

Drake struggled this spring, making 12 appearances, logging 11 1/3 innings, while accumulating an ERA of 5.56. Hoover turned heads this spring training appearing in 9 games, going 9 1/3 inning and not allowing a run. He also owned an excellent WHIP of 0.64. Aguilar also played well, batting .276 with two home runs and seven runs batted in in 58 at-bats.

What I would do

First off, I would cut Drake, as he has never really impressed me during his time in Milwaukee. I would then give his 40-man roster spot to Hoover, who was outstanding during spring training. Williams showed this past month that he’s all the way back from his Tommy John surgery in 2015, as he was clocked numerous times in the mid to upper 90s on the radar gun.

The Brewers would then still have one spot left on their 40-man roster, which they should give to Choi. I then would assign him to Triple-A Colorado Springs and continue to add to the depth at first base. These moves would also allow the Brewers the option not to place Nelson on the 60-day disabled list and continue to monitor his rehab schedule.

 

Why the Brewers aren’t necessarily going “all in” with these recent moves

The Milwaukee Brewers and general manager David Stearns are back at it again. The club is the talk of the off-season right now after trading for Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich and signing former All-Star outfielder Lorenzo Cain as a free agent Thursday night.

Milwaukee still has a crowded outfield, which means that more moves will be likely to come before the start of spring training and players such as Domingo Santana, Brett Phillips, and Keon Broxton could be on the move. Despite all of these transactions, though, the Brewers aren’t necessarily going all in with a win-now mentality.

Here are some of the reasons why the Brewers didn’t mortgage their future and are not only going to contend for a playoff spot this season, but for a World Series for the next five years.

Trading for Yelich cost Milwaukee its top prospect in Lewis Brinson and other highly ranked prospects in Isan Diaz (6th), Monte Harrison (14th), and Jordan Yamamoto (21st). Yelich is the player right now that the Brewers had hoped Brinson could become and the one Miami is banking on him becoming.

The 23-year-old Brinson spent some time in the majors last season, but struggled when given the chance to play. At 26 years old, Yelich has been playing in the big leagues for five years, and is coming off a season in which he hit .282 with 18 home runs and 81 RBIs. He did that while hitting at Marlins Park, a much bigger stadium than Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

Milwaukee included 21-year-old Diaz in the deal and was able to do so because of the depth at its middle infield spots. The Brewers currently have Orlando Arcia at shortstop and are hoping for a bounce back season from Jonathan Villar at second base. The Brewers also have their seventh-ranked prospect in Mauricio Dubon, who is expected to see time at the big league level this season. Milwaukee also has another top prospect, Jean Carmona (13th) at that position.

The 22-year-old Harrison was another prospect that became expendable because of the depth at the outfield position. Harrison had a big season last year between low and high-A. He was still a ways away from the big leagues at this point in his career.

The last player involved in the trade, 21-year-old Jordan Yamamoto is coming off a good season in high-A with Carolina, but was among the organization top-10 pitching prospects.

Yelich will be under contract through a good chunk of his prime. He won’t be eligible for free agency until 2022. Yelich will command the most money during the 2021 season, a season in which he will make $15 million. Milwaukee basically nailed down an All-Star caliber player for a reasonable price during the prime of his career.

Many fans have questioned the signing of Cain, especially after trading for Yelich. Yes, the Brewers still have a crowded outfield. Yes, Cain turns 32 years old during this upcoming season. Yes, he’s making an average of $16 million per year over the next five season with this new deal.

What many people don’t know is that is that every Major League Baseball owner was given $50 million due to the deal that Disney struck with the league related to streaming and marketing. This means that Milwaukee’s owner, Mark Attanasio, could put that money towards the Brewers team salary. In the past, Attanasio hasn’t hesitated to spend money when he feels the team can contend and these moves suggest he does.

The Brewers could essentially use that money to pay for part of Cain’s $80 million contract. This would leave Milwaukee on the hook for $30 million over the next five years, which makes it a much more team-friendly deal at $6 million per year over five years. Under the ownership of Attanasio, the Brewers have seen their team salary rise as high as $110 million. The Brewers expected salary is around $90 million for the upcoming season, which should leave the Brewers with roughly $20 million dollars a year to spend on future signings, extensions, etc. The Brewers still have financial flexibility to make future moves.

Brewers fans are a winning starved bunch and just seeing progress from off-season moves like these can lead to this kind of “all in” thinking by fans. The moves that Stearns and the Brewers made yesterday by no means show that the Brewers are in the “win now” mode. These two transactions are just another step in the rebuild and the push for getting to the World Series in the near future. Milwaukee definitely added better players to their roster yesterday, but still have a farm full of prospects, financial flexibility, and time to build towards championships.