Milwaukee Brewers – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-03-24T12:10:47Z Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Stearns On Brewers' Pitching]]> 2018-03-24T12:10:47Z 2018-03-24T04:39:32Z Brewers GM David Stearns spoke today about his team’s much-discussed offseason pitching decisions, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. Explaining that the organization believes it has ample rotation depth on hand, Stearns explained that his focus was on evaluating “the extent of the upgrade” that could be achieved in any particular transactions. Clearly, the team felt it could do more by adding two high-quality outfielders than by putting veteran hurlers in front of a group of youngsters that, in Stearns’s view, “have the ability to make an impact on the major-league level” in the near future. That said, Stearns acknowledges that his front office was involved with several free agents and also “were close a couple of times” to trades for pitching.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Brewers Offered Alex Cobb A One Year/$12MM Deal]]> 2018-03-23T14:03:55Z 2018-03-23T13:41:02Z
  • After Lance Lynn signed with the Twins for one year and $12MM, the Brewers offered Cobb a contract with the same terms.  Cobb rejected the deal, as it was known that he was looking for multiple years and wasn’t willing to settle for a one-year pact.  It should be noted that Lynn himself could’ve had at least one multi-year offer on the table, but opted instead to sign the one-year deal with Minnesota since he was excited about their potential as a contender.
  • While none of these teams were specifically cited as being interested in McHugh, Heyman listed the Reds, Brewers, Mariners, and Rangers as teams that are looking for pitching.  All four of the clubs have dealt with some injury setbacks in Spring Training, so further additions could be more akin to fill-in options rather than major acquisitions.  Texas, however, does seem to be at least considering making a higher-priced add, given how the Rangers showed some recent interest in Cobb and Greg Holland.

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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Indians, Naquin, Refsnyder, Reds, Miley, Cabrera]]> 2018-03-23T02:39:14Z 2018-03-23T02:27:29Z Tyler Naquin and Rob Refsnyder are still competing for a potential spot on the Indians’ opening day roster, and Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets that manager Terry Francona has explained some details to them. Francona reportedly told the two players that the spot won’t simply go to the guy who gets the most hits over the last week, and that roster construction could be the biggest factor. For instance, if Brandon Guyer and/or Michael Brantley aren’t ready in time for opening day, Naquin and Refsnyder would stand a better chance to make the club out of camp. Whether the club chooses to carry seven or eight relievers will also affect their fates. It’s worth noting that Tyler Naquin has multiple options remaining, while Rob Refsnyder is an out-of-options player.

    More out of the midwest…

    • In a piece for The Athletic, Doug Gray details ten Reds prospects to keep an eye on for the coming season. The players in the article aren’t necessarily top prospects, but rather a group of under-the-radar players who Gray describes as “unheralded”. The list includes right-handers Nick Hanson and Ryan Hendrix, $10MM shortstop Jose Garcia, and Brandon Phillips’ cousin Montrell Marshall. Many of these players have significant upside and are worth the exploration by any Reds fan, or indeed any avid baseball follower.
    • Wade Miley’s opt-out date has been pushed back, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports on Twitter. The southpaw seemed likely to make the Brewers’ rotation before suffering a torn groin that’s expected to keep him out two to four weeks. Miley could have opted out of his contract tomorrow after being informed that he wouldn’t make the opening day roster, but GM David Stearns apparently worked out a deal with his agent. Miley’s opt-out date has been extended until the point at which he’s able to start pitching again.
    • Two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera is stuck in “baseball purgatory”, says Scott Miller in an opinion piece for Bleacher Report. Miller describes Cabrera as “an island unto himself”, on a rebuilding Tigers team that will not likely be able to deal him and the $192MM remaining on his contract, particularly coming off the worst season of his career wherein he was plagued by back issues. For his part, Cabrera doesn’t seem to be focused on that aspect of his situation. “I’m here to play,” he says. “I’m not here to give my opinion of what’s going to happen. I’m here to do my job, to help win games and to help the process.” 
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Wade Miley Diagnosed With Slight Groin Tear, Boone Logan With Triceps Strain]]> 2018-03-22T23:05:37Z 2018-03-22T21:41:39Z 4:41pm: Tom Haudricort of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that while the Brewers are calling Boone’s injury a triceps strain, there’s “some concern” that it’s in the area of last season’s lat tear. More testing will be needed, but it’s “a DL situation in any event.”

    Additionally, Haudricort adds that while Miley is not expected to go on the major league roster at this time, GM David Stearns is working with Miley’s agent to keep him in the organization.

    10:38am: Two Brewers lefties have learned more about their injury situations, as’s Adam McCalvy reports (Twitter links). Rotation candidate Wade Miley has been diagnosed with a slight groin tear, while reliever Boone Logan has a mild triceps strain.

    There’s more than just an injury at play for Miley, who can opt out of his minors deal today if not added to the MLB roster. There’s also the matter of an upcoming $100K retention bonus for the Article XX(B) free agent. It’s not clear at this point how much time he’s expected to miss.

    As McCalvy notes, it seems that Miley’s representatives will need to hash things out with the Brewers. The veteran hurler says he hopes to remain with the organization after a solid showing this spring. It had been expected that he would crack the rotation to open the season. His existing deal would promise him $2.5MM with as much as $3.2MM more via incentives in the majors.

    As for Logan, who inked a $2.5MM guaranteed contract over the winter, the timeline is also yet to be determined. He generally expressed optimism that the injury will not be a significant one, though skipper Craig Counsell tells reporters (including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; Twitter link) that Logan will be on the DL to open the season.

    The news, particularly with regard to Miley, creates some added questions for a Milwaukee staff that has been the subject of much debate all winter long. Many have wondered why the organization has not pursued further rotation help, while the club has indicated optimism with the unit on hand. Junior Guerra now seems to be in good shape to crack the rotation, while pitchers such as Brent Suter, Brandon Woodruff, and perhaps veteran Yovani Gallardo now have additional opportunity to sneak into the Opening Day starting five — assuming, at least, that the Brewers don’t take another look at outside possibilities.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Wade Miley, Boone Logan Dealing With Injuries]]> 2018-03-22T00:15:17Z 2018-03-22T00:14:58Z
  • Brewers southpaw Wade Miley exited his outing Wednesday with a strained left groin and will undergo an MRI, Adam McCalvy of was among those to report (Twitter links here). That’s obviously not ideal for Miley, who’s vying for a place in the Brewers’ rotation, or the team, which isn’t yet sure who will occupy the final two starting spots behind Chase Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin and Zach Davies. Miley looked like a front-runner to earn one of those jobs prior to Wednesday – manager Craig Counsell said that “Wade had made a really good case to be on the team” – though that’s up in the air as we await further news on his injury. It’s also worth noting that the 31-year-old can opt out of his minor league deal as early as Thursday.
  • Lefty reliever Boone Logan also left the Brewers’ game with an injury, McCalvy relays (Twitter links). Counsell attributed his departure to triceps/shoulder discomfort, but he’s not yet sure of the severity. Logan joined the Brewers for a guaranteed $2.75MM over the winter after spending a shortened 2017 in Cleveland, where his season ended in July on account of a strained lat muscle.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brewers Notes: Miley, Catchers]]> 2018-03-18T21:58:03Z 2018-03-18T21:57:51Z The minor league contract left-hander Wade Miley signed with the Brewers last month contains a March 22 opt-out clause, Adam McCalvy of tweets.  Miley can ask for his release if the Brewers don’t inform him that he has made the club by then, McCalvy adds. The latest we’ll know Miley’s fate is March 24, as he’s an Article XX(B) free agent whom Milwaukee must either cut loose or put on its roster by that date. The 31-year-old Miley has a legitimate chance to win a spot in the Brewers’ rotation, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentintel suggested Saturday.

    • More on the Brewers, who are “monitoring the catching market,” according to Haudricourt. Their backstops at the moment are Manny Pina and Jett Bandy, while Stephen Vogt will open the season on the disabled list, manager Craig Counsell told McCalvy and other reporters Sunday. Assuming the Brewers don’t change their minds and release Vogt, his $3.065MM salary will become guaranteed on Opening Day. Vogt has been out since late February with a capsule strain in his right shoulder. He has a fan in Brewers general manager David Stearns, who said (via Haudricourt): “We want him here. Stephen brings a lot to this team.”
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brewers Bring Back Jim Henderson, Release Ernesto Frieri]]> 2018-03-18T19:59:58Z 2018-03-18T19:59:16Z
  • The Brewers are reuniting with reliever Jim Henderson on a minor league pact, Adam McCalvy of tweets. Interestingly, the 35-year-old Henderson will act as a player/coach, and he could even do some scouting eventually, per McCalvy. The majority of Henderson’s major league time has come in Milwaukee, where he made his MLB debut and pitched to a 3.44 ERA across 102 innings from 2012-14. He last saw action in the majors in 2016 with the Mets. An attempt to catch on with the Cubs a year ago didn’t take, so Henderson went through the season without pitching competitively.
  • The Brewers have released reliever Ernesto Frieri, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The 32-year-old Frieri will look to continue his career, even though he struggled in camp, per Haudricourt. Once of the game’s premier relievers, Frieri was last an effective major leaguer in 2013, when he was the Angels’ closer. He logged just seven innings last year (with the Rangers) after not pitching in the bigs in 2016. Frieri performed well with the Triple-A affiliates of the Rangers, Yankees and Mariners, though, as he combined for a 3.43 ERA with 11.9 K/9 against 4.8 BB/9 over 39 1/3 frames.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Suarez, Mahle, Romano, Garrett, Kirby, Tigers]]> 2018-03-17T15:02:26Z 2018-03-17T15:02:26Z Mark Sheldon of posits that the Redsextension of Eugenio Suarez is a sign that the club is making an effort to keep a young core of players together for the foreseeable future, alongside potential future Hall-of-Famer Joey Votto. In the companion video, GM Dick Williams speaks highly of Suarez, particularly in regards to his defensive capabilities. “This is one of the premier defenders in the league,” says Williams. “At third base he’s established himself as one of the best young players in the league… he’s an offensive force, defensive force, leader in the clubhouse, say no more.” It’s interesting that Williams so specifically refers to Suarez as a third baseman, given the speculation that the former shortstop might slide back to his old position to make room for top prospect Nick Senzel. The GM’s comments seem to suggest the possibility that the destination of Senzel’s path to the majors isn’t the hot corner.

    More from some non-coastal ballclubs…

    • In other Reds news, the starting rotation picture is beginning to gain some clarity beyond Homer Bailey and Luis Castillo, who appear to be the only locks following injuries to Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan. Per a tweet from C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic, manager Bryan Price says that Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle “may have separated themselves from the pack a little bit” in the rotation competition. A piece by John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer contains quotes that line up with this tweet, perhaps also suggesting that lefty Amir Garrett is tabbed for a spot if Finnegan’s injury sidelines him to start the season. “With the way Romano and Mahle have thrown in camp, they’ve certainly put themselves in the lead,” Price said, via Fay’s article. “I think with the way Amir has thrown has created an opportunity to jump in there in the rotation and get a start against the Diamondbacks and get stretched out.”
    • Brewers prospect Nathan Kirby is finally healthy and determined to establish himself as a valuable pitcher, writes Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Rosiak describes Kirby as something of a “forgotten man” in Milwaukee’s system for the past two and a half years. The 24-year-old was drafted 40th overall by the organization back in 2015, but has since undergone two surgeries on his left elbow (a Tommy John operation and another for ulnar neuritis). Though Kirby ranked near the bottom on most Milwaukee prospect lists, he was a large part of the University of Virginia’s first College World Series title, and would seem to have the potential to rise through the Brewers’ farm system quickly if he can stay healthy this season.
    • Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweets that the Tigers remain on the lookout for veteran insurance for their starting rotation. The organization is reportedly concerned about the dependability of its starting rotation as a whole; their current options include Michael Fulmer, Francisco Liriano, Mike Fiers, Jordan Zimmerman, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris. Alex Cobb tops the list of available free agent starters, while Scott Feldman, Trevor Cahill and Clay Buchholz are some other interesting arms that remain on the market.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Brewers’ Catching Corps]]> 2018-03-14T17:58:25Z 2018-03-14T17:53:06Z March 14: Haudricourt tweets that the second opinion on Vogt’s shoulder revealed nothing new, confirming that he’s still suffering from a capsule strain in his throwing shoulder. That could mean he’s in line to open the season on the disabled list, which would temporarily solve the out-of-options logjam at backup catcher. Upon being cleared to play, Vogt would have a month’s time to get back up to speed in a rehab assignment, and the Brewers would have some additional time in-season to evaluate Bandy.

    Haudricourt wonders in a followup tweet whether the Brewers may monitor the market for catching depth with Vogt on the shelf. Milwaukee’s catching depth thinned out a bit earlier this winter when the Orioles picked up Andrew Susac in a minor trade.

    March 12: Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt, initially projected to be out for two to three weeks with a shoulder issue, experienced a setback when attempting to throw on the field today, tweets’s Adam McCalvy. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel adds that Vogt is headed for an MRI to further evaluate the root of his shoulder discomfort (Twitter links).

    As both McCalvy and Haudricourt point out, the timing of the move puts both Vogt and the Brewers in a difficult spot. The well-respected veteran entered camp as the favorite to join Manny Pina in comprising Milwaukee’s primary catching tandem, but his status is now up in the air. Moreover, Vogt is out of minor league options and is on a non-guaranteed arbitration contract. The Brewers could still cut him between now and Opening Day and only owe Vogt 45 days of termination pay — or $750K of his $3.05MM arbitration salary.

    [Related: Updated Milwaukee Brewers depth chart]

    The injury is of interest not only because Vogt is out of minor league options but also due to the fact that fellow catcher Jett Bandy is out of options as well. It seemed like a long shot that both Vogt and Bandy would make the Opening Day roster (barring an injury to Pina), but Bandy looks less like the odd man out now that Vogt’s shoulder is proving to be a continued source of discomfort. Bandy hit just .207/.287/.349 through 188 MLB plate appearances in Milwaukee last year and hasn’t provided anything at the plate in 28 spring PAs (.222/.250/.296), but he nonetheless is likely to be the backup if Vogt proves unready for the opener.

    Depending on the severity of Vogt’s shoulder, Milwaukee could cut him loose and try to bring him back to the organization on a new minor league contract. If he does ultimately make the roster, Vogt would be guaranteed the full $3.05MM to which he agreed in arbitration, even if he were to land on the disabled list to begin the year.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Brewers Pitching]]> 2018-03-13T02:21:23Z 2018-03-13T00:32:51Z
  • Right-hander Alex Cobb is the last of the top free-agent starters who remains unsigned, and the Brewers have long been considered a fit for the righty. But Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that he doesn’t expect Milwaukee to make a play for Cobb unless his asking price drops further. Milwaukee has been cited all winter long as a team that needs starters, but to date has only given guaranteed money to Jhoulys Chacin (two-years, $15.5MM) while also picking up Wade Miley and Yovani Gallardo on minor-league deals.
  • Given their stance on Cobb, it seems the Brewers will see how things shake out with their current rotation mix while hoping that the anticipated mid-season return of Jimmy Nelson provides a boost. That strategy will require good health for the existing starters. Fortunately, right-hander Zach Davies looks to have moved past the minor oblique strain which was plaguing him.’s Adam McCalvy tweets that Davies pitched three innings in an intrasquad game, seemingly setting him up to ramp up in time to open the season at full strength.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brewers Won't Name Starting Second Baseman ]]> 2018-03-11T20:26:01Z 2018-03-11T20:25:35Z
  • The Brewers don’t plan to name a starting second baseman by the beginning of the season, manager Craig Counsell said Sunday (Twitter link via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Rather, the hope is that someone from the Jonathan VillarEric SogardHernan Perez trio will stand out during the season, Haudricourt suggests. Notably, second baseman Neil Walker remains on the open market after performing well as a Brewer during the second half of 2017, and he’s arguably a better option than anyone they have now. However, the Brewers don’t seem to be interested in a reunion with the 32-year-old.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Ryan Braun Discusses Challenge Of Playing First Base]]> 2018-03-11T05:21:06Z 2018-03-11T05:20:54Z
  • Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun’s attempt to play first base this spring isn’t going all that smoothly, even though it has been “enjoyable,” he explained Saturday (via the Associated Press). “I definitely don’t feel comfortable at all,” the 34-year-old admitted. “I’m doing the best I can with it. Guys have to make sacrifices. I think ultimately if we want to get to where we want to get as a team, based on the roster we’ve put together, it obviously helps make us a better team if I’m able to play multiple positions.” Interestingly, Braun added that because of the bending and squatting that are required for playing first, his new position has been “a lot harder” on his back than lining up in the outfield. Braun’s back issued contributed to his abbreviated campaign in 2017 (104 games), and with Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich now on hand in the Brewers’ outfield, playing first could help get him and other Brewers outfielders more at-bats this year. That’s if he’s able to hold up from a health standpoint, of course.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[David Stearns Discusses Brewers' Rotation]]> 2018-03-11T02:18:58Z 2018-03-11T01:00:48Z
  • The Brewers were extremely active in upgrading their outfield during the offseason, as they added the star-caliber twosome of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. General manager David Stearns arguably didn’t do enough to bolster the team’s starting staff, on the other hand, having only signed the fairly cheap trio of Jhoulys Chacin, Yovani Gallardo and early spring success story Wade Miley. But Stearns seems largely content with the Brewers’ rotation options, he tells Richard Justice of “Because we don’t have a lot of names in our rotation, I think it’s easy to forget that our starting rotation was the strength of our team last year,” Stearns said. “One of the main reasons we got where we got was because of how good our starting rotation was, especially the second half, and all those guys are still here.” Milwaukee’s rotation was indeed among the league’s best in 2017 (eighth in fWAR, 10th in ERA), though that was thanks largely to emergent ace Jimmy Nelson, who will miss the first couple months of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery last September.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Padres Made Run At Yelich Before Brewers Trade]]> 2018-03-10T21:13:18Z 2018-03-10T05:41:31Z
  • In other news that’s largely of historical interest, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag provided some notes on the Padres’ offseason efforts. The team was able to land Eric Hosmer after Kansas City was unable to earn ownership authorization for its initially reported, seven-year offer, Heyman reports. That seemingly helps explain why subsequent reports indicated that K.C. never went that high in the bidding. San Diego also “made a big play” for outfielder Christian Yelich before he was shipped from the Marlins to the Brewers, Heyman notes in his leaguewide rundown of information. Notably, the Pads effectively ended up adding an outfielder when they inked Hosmer, thus pushing Wil Myers back onto the grass.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Junior Guerra Has Fourth Option Year]]> 2018-03-09T23:50:59Z 2018-03-09T23:50:59Z The Brewers have some more flexibility with righty Junior Guerra than had generally been realized, as’s Adam McCalvy tweets. Milwaukee GM David Stearns says that the hurler has one option season remaining.

    It seems that Guerra was granted an additional option season at some point in the past, though the details aren’t perectly clear. Players presumptively may only be optioned in three seasons, but in certain circumstances will be granted a fourth year. (Of course, whether or not it’s more beneficial to the player or his current team is not always immediately evident.)

    Fourth options are given where a player misses all of an option year to due injury or has all three options burned before he has finished his fifth season as a professional. The latter provision seems to apply to Guerra’s unusual background. He appeared in the minors in 2006 and 2008 before reappearing in affiliated ball in 2015, kicking off a series of three campaigns in which he spent time on optional assignment.

    In any event, the news means that the Brewers won’t be forced into a tough decision on Guerra’s status, either at the end of camp or during the season. Instead, the club can make its determination on whether and how he’ll be utilized in the majors based upon merit — along with a healthy consideration for the contract situations of other options.

    Guerra, 33, struggled to a 5.12 ERA last year after a remarkable breakout effort in 2016. As the Brewers plot their staff for the season to come, he may or may not end up being seen as the best choice to take a rotation spot to open the year. With Wade Miley and Yovani Gallardo among the hurlers battling for jobs in camp, it’s certainly possible that Milwaukee will best be able to preserve its depth by holding Guerra in the minors to open the year.

    At this point, the team’s course is hardly clear; indeed, there’s ample speculation about the possibility of acquiring another hurler altogether. But Guerra’s option year adds to the slate of possibilities for the Brewers front office.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Brewers Rumors: Broxton, Santana, Aguilar, Remaining Moves]]> 2018-03-07T05:24:41Z 2018-03-07T05:24:41Z Much has been made of the Brewers’ outfield logjam since the signing of Lorenzo Cain and acquisition of Christian Yelich seemingly left the team with more big leaguers than spots to play them. While Domingo Santana has been an oft-speculated trade candidate, frequently connected to pitching targets, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Keon Broxton has actually been garnering more attention on the trade market (Twitter links). Santana, of course, had a breakout 2017 season in which he slugged 30 homers and hit .278/.371/.505 in 607 plate appearances and is more than two years younger than Broxton. However, Broxton’s ability to play center field is leading to a greater volume of interest than the Brew Crew is receiving in Santana, per the report. Haudricourt also notes that because Broxton has a minor league option remaining, he could potentially spend enough time in Triple-A to miss Super Two status, which would mean he’s not arbitration-eligible until after the 2019 season. Even spending a month in the minors would put Broxton’s year-end service time at two years, 118 days, which would leave him shy of standard Super Two range.

    A bit more on the Brewers…

    • There doesn’t appear to be space on the Brewers’ Opening Day roster for first baseman Jesus Aguilar, writes’s Adam McCalvy in his latest Brewers Inbox column. And, because Aguilar is out of minor league options, that means he’d be exposed to waivers (and quite likely claimed) or traded to another organization. The Brewers plan to carry eight relievers, and with Cain, Yelich, Ryan Braun, Eric Thames and Santana all in a carousel in the outfield and (in the case of Braun and Thames) at first base, there’s no clear bench spot for Aguilar. The 27-year-old Aguilar hit .265/.331/.505 with 16 homers as a rookie last year, including a .302/.370/.531 line against lefties. (A trade or injury could open a door to keep Aguilar on the roster.) McCalvy notes that Aguilar is “off-the-charts good in the clubhouse,” so retaining him would likely be a popular move with his teammates.
    • McCalvy also notes in that column that he’s received “no indication” that the Brewers are having conversations with the agents for either Neil Walker or Jonathan Lucroy — two former Brewers who remain unsigned. That meshes with comments from GM David Stearns in a Monday interview with Gary Ellerson and Ramie Makhlouf of 105.7 FM The Fan in Milwaukee (h/t:’s Alyson Footer). Stearns said that he doesn’t expect another “significant” addition via either free agency or the trade market, though he notes that he’s still doing his due diligence and monitoring both markets with a “never say never” mentality. Nonetheless, Steanrs plainly stated that he “[anticipates] that we go into the season with the current group we have.” The GM also indicated, without delving into specific names, that the Brewers’ rumored interest in some free agents was overstated this offseason, stating that there was a “higher percentage” than usual of rumors that made him “scratch [his] head a little bit and wonder where that came from.”
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Central Notes: Moustakas, Bryant, Miley, Freese]]> 2018-03-03T01:41:16Z 2018-03-03T01:41:16Z It has long been suggested that the White Sox would make for an interesting match with free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas, but we’ve seen little in the way of a clear connection. But now there’s evidence at least that the sides are “staying in touch,” in the words of Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Whether that means the South Siders have real interest that would drive a significant offer, of course, is not yet clear. Presumably, the club would be intrigued mostly in a value proposition of some kind, perhaps in a multi-year scenario. While few outside observers believe the Sox roster is primed to compete in 2018, Moustakas would boost the quality in the short term and (more importantly) is young enough that he could be installed as a solid asset for future seasons. With little in the way of clear demand from contenders, this remains one of the more intriguing fits on paper.

    • Cubs star Kris Bryant says this winter’s slow-moving free agent market has spurred him to take labor issues seriously, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes“I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come,” says Bryant. His own delayed promotion to start the 2015 season has obviously played a role in spurring his attention to the subject. It’s an interesting read on one of the game’s brightest young players, who says he and other players are readying to take a more proactive role. “I think with this next [CBA] things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to,” says Bryant.
    • The Brewers rotation still has plenty of questions at the back end; indeed, many fans would still like to see an outside addition to provide one answer. As things stand, though, there’s a camp battle underway with quite a few participants. Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote yesterday that, while it’s still plenty early, both Wade Miley and Brent Suter have made favorable initial impressions. In Miley’s case, at least, it might even be that his showing already makes him an odds-on favorite to crack the roster. He has over a thousand MLB innings under his belt, after all, and the Brewers might well lose him through an opt-out (he’s an Article XX(B) free agent) if they don’t ultimately put him on the 40-man. Of course, there’s plenty of time yet for candidates to rise and fall in camp.
    • Pirates third baseman David Freese had some salty words for the organization earlier in the winter, but he tells Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that they weren’t directed at finding his way to another team. Rather, it seems, Freese was making a call for all in the organization to recommit to winning — a possibility he says he believes in, particularly with the recent acquisitions of Corey Dickerson and Kevin Siegrist. Freese also says he understands he’s not likely to command the lion’s share of the time at third base. “I’ve had a good run in the big leagues,” he said, “and I just want to go out there and win some games.”
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On The Top Remaining Free Agent Starters]]> 2018-03-02T18:44:10Z 2018-03-02T18:44:10Z The Nationals reportedly remain open to adding to their roster before the season begins, and while they’ve been oft-linked to top remaining free agent Jake Arrieta, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports that the Nats “haven’t engaged with Arrieta’s camp recently.” The Nationals, it seems (much like the rest of baseball), would be likelier to jump into the fray if Arrieta’s price drops.

    Castillo does note that at least three other clubs have made recent inquiries with Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras. One of those is likely the Phillies, who are reported to have an ongoing dialogue with Boras regarding Arrieta. However, most reports out of Philadelphia suggest that the Phils are loath to go beyond three years for the former NL Cy Yong winner, who will pitch this season at age 32 and has displayed some signs of decline in recent years — most notably a loss of velocity and worsened K/BB rates.

    Alternatives for the Nats, Phillies and other clubs searching for rotation upgrades are still on the market in the form of Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, who both remain unsigned. Todd Zolecki of writes, however, that the Phils are even less likely to sign Cobb or Lynn to a long-term deal than they are Arrieta (and again reports that the Phils don’t want to go past three years for Arrieta). Even a contract in the vicinity of Tyler Chatwood’s three-year, $38MM pact with the Cubs could be too rich for the Phillies’ tastes when it comes to Lynn and Cobb, Zolecki writes.

    It seems that virtually every club in need of rotation help is awaiting the asking price on the top three starters to drop. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden tweets that both Cobb and Lynn are still seeking guarantees worth more than $50MM. (It’s worth pointing out that the manner in which that report frames draft compensation is inaccurate; the draft/international penalty for signing any of Arrieta, Cobb or Lynn is not tied to that $50MM figure, but a deal of $50MM or more would improve the compensation for the teams losing those players.)

    The Orioles, Brewers, Phillies and Twins all hold varying levels of interest in Cobb and/or Lynn, Bowden notes, but not at the current asking price. The Twins’ level of interest in Lynn doesn’t appear to be especially high at this point, though. While Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN walks back a recent report a bit by tweeting that Minnesota’s offer to Lynn was for more than the $12MM he initially reported, he adds that it was nonetheless well shy of anything his camp considered and that there are no current talks between the two sides.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Brewers Notes: Outfield, Vogt, Nelson, Braun, Aguilar]]> 2018-03-02T05:27:45Z 2018-03-01T02:04:18Z Much has been made of the Brewers’ crowded outfield and the potential need to trade someone from that mix, but manager Craig Counsell doesn’t see it that way. Speaking to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Counsell described a rotation of Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Domingo Santana and Eric Thames between the three outfield spots and first base that could still get everyone from that quintet ample playing time. “If you split it evenly with five guys, that’s 560 [plate appearances] apiece,” Counsell explained, using a rough guideline of about 2800 PAs over the four positions. “With injuries and everything, we’ll find a way. Some guys will get 500, and some will get 600, but it will work out.” Of course, the Brewers also have Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips on hand, though each has minor league options remaining and could be used as a high-quality depth piece (or a trade candidate — either over the next month or later this summer).

    Here’s more out of Milwaukee…

    • Catcher Stephen Vogt has been diagnosed with a shoulder strain and will miss the next two to three weeks of Spring Training games, per Tom Haudricourt and Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He’ll also be shut down from throwing for a week. As Haudricourt and Rosiak note, the injury could have significant repercussions for Vogt and could very well impact the Opening Day roster. Vogt’s $3.05MM contract, like the vast majority of arbitration contracts, isn’t fully guaranteed. The Brewers could theoretically cut him and be on the hook only for 30 to 45 days of termination pay between now and Opening Day. Vogt is competing with Jett Bandy to serve as the backup to Manny Pina this season, and Bandy is out of minor league options, meaning he’d be exposed to waivers or traded if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster.
    • Also via Haudricourt and Rosiak, Brewers ace Jimmy Nelson is still limited to throwing from flat ground and won’t get onto a mound until after the season starts. The team isn’t giving any sort of firm timeline on when Nelson can be expected to return to the big league club, though the report posits that a return around the All-Star break is plausible for Nelson, who underwent shoulder surgery last September after suffering an injury when diving back into first base.
    • Braun got his first work of the spring in at first base and saw plenty of action in today’s game, writes’s Adam McCalvy“There were runners on base quite a bit, so he was holding runners, getting a feel for that,” said Counsell. “He had a pick in the second inning. He had to get in the cutoff position on a couple of different plays. I would say it was a real positive experience for the first day. Some things to put through his head that he can check off the list as experiences.” As McCalvy points out, the Braun experiment at first base will impact more than just the outfield rotation; Braun seeing more action at first could also have a direct impact on Jesus Aguilar’s role with the club, though it’s not year clear how the Brewers will sort out their considerable depth. Aguilar, like Bandy, is out of minor league options, thus further muddling the scenario.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Morosi: Brewers Monitoring Top Available Starters]]> 2018-02-25T22:59:27Z 2018-02-25T22:59:27Z Yankees manager Aaron Boone suggested Sunday that they won’t sign either Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb, yet the team has “maintained contact with Lynn throughout the offseason,” Jon Morosi of writes. The Yankees are monitoring the top available starters in general, according to Morosi, who hears that the Brewers, Phillies, Rangers, Orioles and Nationals are doing the same. The Angels, meanwhile, are open to signing the best free agent reliever, Greg Holland, if the price is right, per Morosi. The Halos’ bullpen has seemingly taken a step back since last year ended, having lost Yusmeiro Petit and Bud Norris to free agency and added only Jim Johnson. While Holland would help make up for those exits, he’s presumably not going to sign for cheap, and inking the qualifying offer recipient would cost the Angels their second-highest draft pick this year and $500K in international spending room.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Ryan Braun's Role Yet To Be Determined]]> 2018-02-23T03:38:48Z 2018-02-23T02:42:03Z
  • The Brewers’ plans regarding Ryan Braun are perhaps an underappreciated spring storyline. As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes, the veteran slugger is going to find time at first base and perhaps also second. That would potentially allow the club to balance the demands of finding enough time for Braun after adding Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich to an outfield that already featured Domingo Santana (with Brett Phillips and others also pushing up from the farm). As a long-time star corner outfielder who is now 34 years of age, Braun is an unusual candidate to turn into a utility player of sorts. But it’s also interesting to consider the potential upside as well as the merits of limiting the load on Braun, who has had his share of nicks and scrapes over the years. Just how things look on Opening Day, though, still aren’t clear. It still seems possible Santana could be dealt. And Jon Heyman of Fan Rag argues the organization still needs to add a significant rotation piece if it hopes to keep pace.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL Central Notes: Brewers, Reds, Pirates]]> 2018-02-19T01:45:23Z 2018-02-19T01:45:23Z Reiterating a familiar stance for the Brewers this offseason, GM David Stearns says that the club has confidence in its current group of starters, but they’re exploring upgrades (via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). “We’ve explored a variety of starting pitching options out there, and have a pretty good sense of what the market is,” Stearns said Sunday. “Our stance is if we can make an acquisition that we think can meaningfully upgrade the team at a responsible investment level, that’s something we’re open to.” Stearns went on to say that he believes the Milwaukee front office has done a nice job of adding to their depth. This isn’t the first time the Brewers GM has expressed confidence in the club’s current group of starters, though that notion might be met with some skepticism considering the club’s lengthy pursuit of Yu Darvish that ultimately came up short.

    Some other notes out of the NL Central…

    • Stearns expressed confidence in the club’s catching group as well when asked about the possibility of a reunion between the Brewers and Jonathan Lucroy (Twitter links from Haudricourt). The GM thinks that the team got “pretty meaningful production” last year from a position split between Manny Pina, Stephen Vogt and Jett Bandy (though there’s room for skepticism on that front too, considering the team’s catchers combined to finish 20th out of 30 MLB teams by positional fWAR). Haudricourt notes that Bandy is out of minor league options while Vogt’s deal is non-guaranteed, meaning the Brewers may have a tough decision to make during spring training camp.
    • Though Reds franchise icon Joey Votto has shown faith in the club’s rebuild in past seasons, the first baseman seems to be growing impatient, writes Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer“I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball,” he told the press on Sunday. “I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.” Votto certainly did all he could for the Reds during their recent losing stretch. Though the team lost at least 90 games in each of the past three seasons, he managed a stunning .320/.449/.557 slash line with 94 home runs and more walks (385) than strikeouts (338) during that time.
    • In part due to player feedback, the Pirates have made changes to their training staff this offseason that they believe will lead to fewer DL stints on the whole. Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the details: Bryan Housand, the team’s new head athletic trainer, and Todd Tomscyk, recently named director of sports medicine for the club, are two of the major cogs in this overhaul. GM Neal Huntington says that Tomczyk in particular will now be able to have a “bigger impact” on the club’s performance team. Notably, the club saw three of its 2017 contributors hit the DL with hamstring strains (Gregory Polanco, Adam Frazier and David Freese); perhaps this change in the club’s training approach could help to curb that issue in 2018.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Lorenzo Cain Discusses Free Agent Courtship With Brewers]]> 2018-02-17T23:00:38Z 2018-02-17T23:00:38Z
  • Lorenzo Cain was very intrigued by the idea of once again playing for the Brewers and they became his top choice in free agency, the outfielder tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  In fact, “once I saw their interest was for real,” Cain said the Brewers became his only choice for contract talks.  “Honestly, when we engaged Milwaukee, my focus was on them the entire time,” Cain said.  “We told them we were only going to negotiate with them at the time. That’s the way I wanted it….we continued to push forward and found a way to get it done.  I had a number I wanted to get to, and Milwaukee got to that number.”  Cain ended up signing a five-year, $80MM contract with the Brew Crew, and though “some other teams jumped in toward the end” of negotiations, Cain “knew [Milwaukee] would be the most comfortable fit for me.  I don’t need to be in a big city.  I played for a small-market team in K.C.  I get more joy out of beating big-market teams.  It puts a smile on my face.”
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Brewers Sign Wade Miley]]> 2018-02-16T14:41:14Z 2018-02-16T14:35:23Z Feb. 16: The Brewers have announced the signing.

    Feb. 14: The Brewers have signed southpaw Wade Miley to a minor league contract, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  Miley will earn $2.5MM in guaranteed money if he cracks Milwaukee’s MLB roster, and could earn as much as $5.7MM if he makes 29 starts in 2018.

    Wade Miley | Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    Miley joins former Orioles teammate Yovani Gallardo as low-cost veteran pitching signings for the Brew Crew this winter, to go along with their pricier two-year deal with Jhoulys ChacinChase Anderson and Zach Davies sit atop Milwaukee’s rotation and Miley will be competing to fill the fifth starter’s role until Jimmy Nelson is able to return from labrum surgery.  The Brewers have also been linked to several bigger-name starters in free agent and trade talks, so the possibility still exists of a major acquisition that would push the likes of Miley, Gallardo, or Junior Guerra into minor league depth or even bullpen roles.

    After averaging 186 innings per season since 2012, Miley will provide the Brewers with a lot of durability, though his effectiveness has sharply declined over the last two seasons.  The left-hander has a 5.48 ERA, 7.8 K/9, and 1.96 K/BB rate over 323 1/3 IP with the Orioles and Mariners since the start of the 2016 season, plus an ugly 17.7% home run rate that ranks third-highest of any qualified pitcher in baseball in that stretch.  Never a big strikeout pitcher, Miley’s control also let him down last year, with a career-worst 5.32 BB/9.

    2017 was the final season of a three-year, $19.25MM deal Miley originally signed as a member of the Red Sox prior to the 2015 campaign.  The contract contained a $12MM club option for 2018, though given the lefty’s tough year, it wasn’t any surprise that the Orioles chose to buy that option out for $500K.

    The O’s and Twins both had some interest in Miley this winter, though the Brewers seemed to have an advantage since Miley was reportedly looking to return to the National League.  Most of Miley’s success at the big league level came as a member of the Diamondbacks from 2011-14, including an All-Star rookie season in 2012 that saw him finish second in NL Rookie Of The Year voting.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Brewers Sign Nick Franklin To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-02-15T21:22:51Z 2018-02-15T21:22:51Z The Brewers announced that they’ve signed infielder/outfielder Nick Franklin to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. He’s represented by the Boras Corporation.

    Franklin, 27 in two weeks, was with the Rays last spring but went to the Brewers on waivers in early April. He appeared in 53 games and took 89 plate appearances before being designated for assignment and landing with the Halos for another brief stretch. Overall, the former top prospect hit just .179/.269/.283 through 119 plate appearances between Milwaukee and Anaheim.

    That unsightly production notwithstanding, Franklin is just one season removed from posting a much more palatable .270/.328/.443 batting line with six homers, 10 doubles and a triple in 191 PAs for the Rays. Though he’s never managed to consistently produce in the Majors, the switch-hitting Franklin has had a few stretches in which he’s displayed promise, and he’s also a .267/.352/.428 hitter in parts of six Triple-A seasons. Franklin has experience at all four infield positions (primarily the up-the-middle slots) as well as in the outfield corners. He’ll vie for a utility job this spring.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Brewers Will Reportedly Attend Lincecum Showcase]]> 2018-02-14T05:02:07Z 2018-02-14T04:55:29Z
  • More than 10 teams are set to attend Tim Lincecum’s showcase on Thursday, it seems. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, Rhett Bollinger of and Roch Kubatko of respectively report that the Tigers, Twins and Orioles will have scouts in attendance (all Twitter links). Heyman adds another handful of clubs, listing the Rangers, Phillies, Dodgers, YankeesRed Sox, Brewers, Padres and Braves as attendees (links to Twitter for the last three), in addition to the previously reported Giants. If anything, it’s perhaps more notable which clubs have elected not to attend the showcase, as there’s no real downside to at least taking a look and the showcase is shaping up to be reasonably well-attended. To that end, the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan wrote over the weekend that the Mets aren’t planning to have a scout in attendance.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 2/12/18]]> 2018-02-13T05:40:08Z 2018-02-13T05:39:39Z Here are the day’s minor moves:

    • The Brewers announced the addition of outfielder Quintin Berry on a minor-league arrangement. And the team also re-signed right-hander Hiram Burgos to a minors deal, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. Berry, now 33, is chiefly known for late-season and postseason stints as pinch runner and defensive replacement, but he did earn a brief trip up to the majors last year with Milwaukee. The 30-year-old Burgos has still yet to play with another organization, though he has only received six total MLB outings with the Brewers, all of which came in 2013. He struggled to a 6.06 ERA in 62 1/3 total frames in the upper minors last year, but did still carry 9.2 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.
    • Lefty Matt Tracy will join the Blue Jays on a minor-league pact, per Cotillo (via Twitter). Tracy, who came to the professional ranks as a 24th-round pick by the Yankees, has just one MLB appearance under his belt but will offer a swingman depth option. The 29-year-old spent last year with the Twins organization, working to a 4.71 ERA in 84 innings spread over three levels of the minors.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brewers Rumors: Darvish, Arrieta]]> 2018-02-11T18:42:16Z 2018-02-11T18:42:16Z
  • While reports earlier this offseason painted the Brewers as aggressive Yu Darvish suitors, that wasn’t really the case, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Darvish, who agreed to join the NL Central rival Cubs on Saturday, “was never going to wear a Brewers uniform,” Haudricourt writes. With Darvish off the board, starter-needy Milwaukee could perhaps turn its focus to former Cub Jake Arrieta – who’s now the top pitcher available – but Haudricourt suggests it’s unlikely he’ll end up a Brewer.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brewers, D-backs Discussed Domingo Santana]]> 2018-02-11T04:10:03Z 2018-02-11T02:33:03Z
  • The Diamondbacks and Brewers discussed outfielder Domingo Santana earlier this offseason, but the teams couldn’t work out a deal, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. Milwaukee was seeking starting pitching in return for Santana, per Cafardo, which you’d expect for a team that has been on the lookout for rotation help throughout the offseason. The D-backs, meanwhile, want another outfielder and have attempted to re-sign the top hitter available in free agency, J.D. Martinez, making their interest in Santana understandable. Santana won’t even be eligible for arbitration until next winter, so he’d obviously make far less of a dent in Arizona’s payroll than JDM.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Brewers' Search For Starting Pitching]]> 2018-02-11T01:24:20Z 2018-02-11T01:21:19Z
  • The upstart Brewers were part of the Darvish derby, too, and the belief is that they also submitted a proposal of at least five years and $100MM, Heyman tweets. However, Rosenthal hears that Milwaukee’s offer “was not as competitive as reports indicated.” Further, Rosenthal suggests that the Brewers may have primarily been in the running just to drive up the price for the NL Central rival Cubs. Regardless, with Darvish now out of the mix, Odorizzi and the Athletics’ Jharel Cotton are trade possibilities for the Brew Crew, according to Rosenthal.
  • In addition to the previously listed Twins and Brewers, the Dodgers and the Phillies are still targeting starters in the wake of the Darvish deal, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Philadelphia is aggressively pursuing a short-term addition, per Mark Feinsand of Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman, Jaime Garcia and Jason Vargas are all possibilities, Feinsand adds.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Brewers' Offer To Darvish Reportedly Worth $100MM+]]> 2018-02-09T05:35:11Z 2018-02-09T05:23:24Z
  • The Brewers’ offer to Yu Darvish was nine figures in total value, Heyman reports in his latest notes column. That’s perhaps not all that surprising, as he’s been expected to sign for more than $100MM all offseason, and any serious proposal to him would figure to top that sum. Heyman further notes that there’s “reason to believe” that neither the Brewers or the Twins are a top choice for Darvish, though, so either team could perhaps need to be more aggressive in order to land him. 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reported yesterday that Minnesota, too, recently made a formal contract offer to Darvish (which presumably was also worth more than $100MM in total).
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Market For Lance Lynn]]> 2018-02-08T18:58:36Z 2018-02-08T18:58:36Z Free agent hurler Lance Lynn has received interest from “seven or eight teams,” according to a report from Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His former team, the Cardinals, is not one of them.

    Lynn, of course, declined a qualifying offer from St. Louis at the start the offseason. It seems the club is now content to allow him to leave, knowing that it’ll receive a draft choice after the Competitive Balance Round B selections so long as Lynn signs before this year’s draft.

    Clearly, Lynn is worthy of punting some draft compensation. But while the CBA’s new qualifying offer rules have generally put that matter on the back burner, parting with draft value is still a factor in any free agent case. (MLBTR has run down what draft picks each team would need to sacrifice to sign a qualified free agent such as Lynn.)

    As we’ve noted of late, Lynn has had a quiet offseason but remains an easy-to-visualize fit with quite a few organizations. Among the teams showing some level of interest, per Goold, are the Brewers and Cubs — two teams that are plenty familiar with Lynn from his lengthy stint with the Cardinals. The article also rounds up reported interest from other quarters, mentioning the Orioles, Twins, Nationals, and Mets as plausible suitors. Indeed, a run through MLBTR’s log of posts involving Lynn shows no shortage of possibilities.

    Lynn himself discussed the situation with Goold, though he declined to get into specifics on teams. You’ll want to read the entire piece, as it’s loaded with interesting information and discussion, but generally Lynn suggests he feels comfortable preparing as normal despite his lack of a contract. “I haven’t missed anything,” he said. “There’s nothing really to worry about — at this moment.”

    Goold also examines Lynn’s value against prior open-market players, suggesting the Tigers’ signing of Jordan Zimmermann — five years and $110MM, with strong no-trade protection — as a comp. While there’s certainly an argument to be made for that kind of analogy given Lynn’s bottom-line results, the view of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes — as explained first in the MLBTR Top 50 Free Agents list and expanded upon in his free agent profile of Lynn — is that the veteran righty isn’t quite in that stratosphere, due in large part to concerns with the peripherals. MLBTR has pegged Lynn for a four-year deal in the $14MM or $15MM annual range, citing a variety of teams as plausible fits on paper.

    In large part, the overall market picture remains much the same as it was when Dierkes set out to evaluate things before the action got underway. Just how Lynn’s situation will shake out, though, is even more difficult to predict now than it was then. The overall tenor of Lynn’s comments, and Goold’s reporting, suggests that this free agent case is not particularly close to resolution.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[NL Central Notes: Grimm, Brewers, Reds]]> 2018-02-06T16:41:23Z 2018-02-05T20:08:18Z The Cubs and Justin Grimm will have an arbitration hearing this week, reports ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers (Twitter link). The right-hander filed for a $2.475MM salary for the 2018 campaign, while the Cubs filed at $2.2MM (as seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker). The two sides haven’t been able to make any progress in their talks, per Rogers, so they’ll head to what will be the Cubs’ first arbitration hearing in the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer era. Grimm, who earned $1.825MM in 2017, struggled to a 5.53 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 1.93 HR/9 and a 43.1 percent ground-ball rate in 55 1/3 innings for the Cubs last year. The 2017-18 offseason marks his second winter of arbitration eligibility as he heads into his age-29 season.

    Elsewhere in the division…

    • The Brewers have the capacity to add to their payroll even after acquiring Christian Yelich and signing Lorenzo Cain, Jhoulys Chacin, Boone Logan and Matt Albers this offseason, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel“Mark wants to do what’s in the best interests of the organization,” GM David Stearns tells Haudricourt. “He has made that very clear throughout my time here and even before I got here. He’s going to be supportive of the baseball process. He’s going to be supportive of investing when it’s warranted.” That said, Haudricourt notes that a top-of-the-market offer for a free agent like Yu Darvish still doesn’t seem likely, per Haudricourt, and the Brewers do want to leave some room for in-season moves, should the need arise.
    • Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, Brandon Finnegan and Luis Castillo will head into Reds camp as the top four rotation options, writes’s Mark Sheldon, but the competition for the fifth spot is “wide open.” Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Jackson Stephens and 2017 setup man Michael Lorenzen will all vie for that job. (Presumably, a return to the bullpen would be in order for Lorenzen should he not win the final spot, whereas the others would likely head to Triple-A Louisville.) “We want to make sure we have depth in our starting rotation, and we’ve got a lot of good, young guys with options that we still believe in as starters,” said GM Dick Williams. “…I would also leave the door open that out of [the fifth starter’s mix], there is a possibility, like last year, that you could see someone appear in the Major League bullpen just to get exposure and to help the team.”
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Latest On Brewers’ Search For A Starter]]> 2018-02-03T21:38:41Z 2018-02-03T21:38:41Z Much has been made of the reports that the Brewers made a contract offer to Yu Darvish about two weeks ago. A quote from ownership stating that GM David Stearns is “working on” adding another pitcher has only added fuel to that fire. But when asked Saturday if there’s been any progress in that search, Stearns metaphorically threw a giant bucket of cold water on those hot stove rumors. “We continue to have discussions on a variety of fronts,” he said (via Tom Haudricort of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). “But at this point I anticipate going (to spring training) with our current group.”

    If the Brewers did make a proposal to Darvish, Haudricort notes, it wasn’t enough to lead to a deal. Additionally, the team has not confirmed any reports that they might sign Darvish, who is believed to be seeking a deal in the range of $150-$175MM. Further dampening any Darvish hopes from Milwaukee fans are reports that the right-hander would like to return to one of his previous teams: the Rangers or the Dodgers.

    Stearns’ comments also seem to indicate that the club’s recent efforts to trade for Rays right-hander Chris Archer didn’t bear any fruit. It’s a trade scenario that already seemed unlikely in the first place, given that only ten days ago Archer told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he expects to remain in Tampa Bay to open the season.

    It’s not as though Stearns completely closed the door on adding a starter. According to Haudricort, he did express that the club is open to acting “if the right opportunity presents itself.” But he followed that up by saying that the club has a “high level of confidence” in its in-house options.

    On the surface, Milwaukee would appear to be one of the MLB teams with the most pressing need for a starter. Beyond Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and the injured Jimmy Nelson (who projects to miss a good portion of the 2018 season), the Brew Crew have a group of low-ceiling starters vying for the remaining spots in the rotation. That group includes Yovani Gallardo, Brent Suter and Jhoulys Chacin. While a rotation comprised of the pitchers above wouldn’t represent a bottom-dwelling cast, it’s curious that the team would make such a strong effort to acquire Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain while failing to improve on the starting pitching front. Of course, it’s worth noting that the Brewers will control both of those outfielders for five full seasons, and they aren’t set to lose any of their most important core players any time soon.

    Prior to this news, Milwaukee was thought to be at least an assertive shopper in the free agent pitching market. If they’re indeed prepared to turn up their noses and roll with internal options to open the season, it’d prove bad news for a 2018 free agent pitching class that has yet to see any of its top four candidates come off the board. Teams have yet to show any serious interest in Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn at their current asking prices, and MLB clubs seemingly haven’t gained any traction with even Darvish to this point in the offseason. With just a few weeks until the start of spring training, this development can only further freeze a historically cold MLB hot stove.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Acquire Andrew Susac]]> 2018-02-02T18:10:45Z 2018-02-02T18:08:31Z The Orioles announced that they’ve acquired catcher Andrew Susac from the Brewers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. Susac was designated for assignment in Milwaukee earlier this week.

    The 27-year-old Susac ranked among the game’s top 100 prospects on multiple lists prior to the 2015 campaign and was a frequent presence near the top of the Giants’ organizational prospect rankings as well. The Brewers acquired him in a 2016 swap that sent lefty Will Smith to San Francisco, though, and he’s struggled in both organizations over the past couple of seasons.

    In 274 MLB plate appearances, Susac has batted just .232/.299/.396 with an alarming 82 strikeouts against 23 walks. He’s been more effective in his Triple-A career, hitting at a .247/.338/.425 clip, and strikeouts haven’t been nearly as much of an issue for him there. Durability, on the other hand, has been a major factor for the former second-rounder (Giants, 2011); Susac has appeared in more than 100 games just twice in a season, and he’s totaled just 142 games over the past two seasons combined. In his young career, Susac has already dealt with wrist, trapezius, finger and shoulder injuries on separate occasions.

    The O’s have been looking to supplement their catching corps and now have four catchers on the 40-man roster in Susac, Chance Sisco, Caleb Joseph and Austin Wynns. Joseph heads into Spring Training with a roster spot all but secured, and while many have presumed Sisco to be the favorite to join him, reports out of Baltimore have suggested that there will be a competition in that regard. Susac will join Sisco and Wynns in vying for playing time, but he has a minor league option remaining, so he can be sent to Triple-A Norfolk without needing to be exposed to waivers if he doesn’t secure a spot.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Brewers Recently Contacted Rays About Chris Archer]]> 2018-02-01T14:34:48Z 2018-02-01T14:34:48Z Seeking an upgrade for the front of their rotation, the Brewers recently circled back with the Rays to inquire on the availability of Chris Archer, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). A deal appears unlikely, though, Rosenthal adds, as Tampa Bay may not hold Domingo Santana or Brett Phillips in high enough regard to serve as a centerpiece.

    After speaking with Rays GM Erik Neander, Archer recently expressed confidence to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he’d remain with the Rays to open the season. The Rays understandably have a huge asking price on Archer, who is on one of the more team-friendly contracts in all of baseball. Tampa Bay controls Archer $33.75MM over the next four seasons, and only the first two years are even guaranteed; his deal contains club options for the 2020 and 2021 campaigns. Archer is only guaranteed $15.5MM over the next two seasons, so in the event of a catastrophic injury, the team that controls him could cut ties and be off the hook without even needing to pay the entire $33.75MM sum remaining on his deal.

    While Archer’s ERA over the past two seasons is a hair above 4.00, fielding-independent metrics like FIP (3.60), xFIP (3.38) and SIERA (3.47) all feel he’s been considerably better than his bottom-line run prevention would suggest. Archer has, after all, averaged 10.8 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 with a 44.9 percent ground-ball rate in that span. He’s gotten in trouble with home runs at times — particularly in August and September of last season — but also possesses one of baseball’s best swinging-strike rates (12.8 percent) and lowest contact rates (72.5 percent) in that two-year stretch. Beyond that, he’s made 32 or more starts in each of the past four seasons, averaging 202 innings per year along the way.

    It stands to reason that Tampa Bay would have interest in either Santana or Phillips on the surface, as each could potentially be a long-term cog in the outfield. But, while Santana is coming off a strong season (.875 OPS, 30 homers, 3.3 fWAR, 3.0 rWAR), he’s controllable for the same four-year term as Archer and figures to be compensated handsomely in arbitration if he continues to hit for this type of power.

    Phillips has six years of control and is not far removed from ranking as one of MLB’s best overall prospects. (Baseball America still ranked him 80th this offseason, in fact.) However, he struck out at a 30 percent rate in Triple-A last year and a 35 percent pace in the Majors. His overall offensive output in Triple-A (.305/.377/.567) and in the Majors (.276/.351/.448) both look strong on the surface, but both were buoyed by a BABIP north of .400 that is assuredly due for regression.

    Finding a slugging corner outfielder, especially in today’s game, and a strikeout-prone center fielder with speed and power isn’t as difficult as finding a durable, 200-inning arm who ranks among the game’s best swing-and-miss artists — especially when said pitcher can affordably sit near the top of a rotation from his age-29 through age-32 campaigns.

    Certainly, the Brewers have other top-ranked talent that could be added to any theoretical package. In addition to Phillips, second baseman Keston Hiura, third baseman Lucas Erceg, and right-handers Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff have all placed on various top 100 rankings early in 2018, and their system possesses enviable depth beyond those top few names. Rosenthal, however, suggests that Milwaukee may be reluctant to further deplete its farm after parting with three of its better prospects in Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison and Isan Diaz to acquire Christian Yeilch. (The team also punted its third-round pick and the associated slot money in the 2018 draft to sign Lorenzo Cain.)

    The Brewers figure to be connected to just about every pitching upgrade on the market in the weeks leading up to Spring Training, having already made an offer to Yu Darvish while also showing various degrees of interest in fellow free agents Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb. One would imagine they’ve checked in with the Royals on Danny Duffy and the Tigers on Michael Fulmer as well, given the rebuilding efforts taking place in Kansas City and Detroit, for instance.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brewers Add Josh Opitz On Minor League Deal]]> 2018-01-31T03:03:19Z 2018-01-31T03:03:19Z
  • The Brewers have announced the signing of infielder Shane Opitz to a minor league pact. Milwaukee is the second organization for the 26-year-old Opitz, who had been with the Blue Jays since they used an 11th-round pick on him in 2010. Opitz hasn’t yet reached the majors and is coming off his first season at the Triple-A level, where he fared poorly across 274 plate appearances (.252/.306/.333). The .639 OPS he posted last year happens to match the lifetime figure he has recorded in 1,972 minor league PAs. While Opitz hasn’t been a threat the plate, he has offered defensive versatility in the minors, having lined up at first, second, shortstop, third and all three outfield positions. The majority of his action, including in 2017, has come at short.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brewers, Yu Darvish Still Talking]]> 2018-01-31T00:22:22Z 2018-01-31T00:21:16Z
  • The Brewers remain in discussions with free agent right-hander Yu Darvish, Robert Murray and Jon Heyman of FanRag report. A deal isn’t necessarily imminent, though, they suggest. Milwaukee reportedly made Darvish a contract offer a week and a half ago, and the playoff-hopeful club has since added quality pieces to its roster in Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich and Matt Albers. On the heels of the Cain and Yelich pickups, owner Mark Attanasio indicated last weekend that general manager David Stearns has been working to bolster the team’s starting staff, and he added that the Brewers have the payroll flexibility to acquire a big-time free agent. Darvish certainly fits the bill as arguably the premier player on the open market.
  • Even after signing Albers, Boone Logan and J.J. Hoover this offseason, the Brewers may not be done strengthening their bullpen, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). They haven’t allocated much money to the group, pulling in Albers and Logan for a combined $7.5MM in guarantees and only handing Hoover a minor league deal. Their relief corps was actually among the majors’ most effective last year (seventh in K/9, tied for eighth in ERA), though Anthony Swarzak and Jared Hughes have since signed elsewhere.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Brewers Designate Andrew Susac For Assignment]]> 2018-01-30T21:15:08Z 2018-01-30T20:42:59Z The Brewers announced that they’ve designated catcher Andrew Susac for assignment today in order to clear a spot on the roster for righty Matt Albers, whose previously reported two-year deal with the team is now official.

    Susac, 27, was once one of baseball’s very best overall prospects, ranking in the Top 100 on multiple lists prior to the 2015 campaign and frequently appearing on the Giants’ organizational rankings. He went to Milwaukee in a 2016 swap that sent lefty Will Smith to San Francisco, though, and has struggled in both organizations over the past couple of seasons.

    In 274 MLB plate appearances, Susac has batted just .232/.299/.396 with an alarming 82 strikeouts against 23 walks. He’s been more effective in his Triple-A career, hitting at a .247/.338/.425 clip, and strikeouts haven’t been nearly as much of an issue for him there. Durability, on the other hand, has been a major factor for the former second-rounder (Giants, 2011); Susac has appeared in more than 100 games just twice in a season, and he’s totaled just 142 games over the past two seasons combined. In his young career, Susac has already dealt with wrist, trapezius, finger and shoulder injuries on separate occasions.

    With Manny Pina, Stephen Vogt and Jett Bandy all on the 40-man roster, the Brewers seemingly feel set on catching depth. It’s possible that Susac clears waivers and remains in the organization, though he does have a minor league option remaining, so he could hold appeal to another organization that is thin at the position.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Poll: How Good Are The Brewers?]]> 2018-01-30T05:42:35Z 2018-01-30T05:42:35Z The Milwaukee Brewers have had a busy offseason (especially over the course of the past week), and they appear to be nearing the end of a surprisingly short rebuild.

    Just last week, it would have seemed odd to count the Brewers as serious contenders for an NL Central pennant in 2018, considering the apparent strength of the rival Cubs and Cardinals. But the Brew Crew shocked the baseball world by acquiring Christian Yelich from the Marlins and signing Lorenzo Cain to a five-year contract within a span of two hours. They’ve since signed Matt Albers to a two-year contract as well, who’ll join lefty Boone Logan as veteran upgrades to the club’s bullpen.

    But even after all those upgrades, Fangraphs still projects the Brewers to finish with a record of 77-85. That’s surprising on the surface considering the club’s 86-76 record in 2017 in combination with the team’s offseason moves thus far. But when taking an in-depth look at the club’s roster, they have some key holes that may hurt their ability to compete with more complete teams.

    The club’s rotation is their most obvious issue. Jimmy Nelson, who took an enormous leap forward last season, will be sidelined until June while recovering from a torn labrum. Chase Anderson and Zach Davies seem like safe bets, but beyond them is a risky and seemingly low-ceiling group that includes Brent Suter, Yovani Gallardo and Jhoulys Chacin. That’s not to say that the Cubs and Cardinals don’t have their own sets of question marks, but the Brewers’ rotation without Nelson could prove somewhat of a white-knuckle experience for fans.

    It’s not as though the club can simply lean on its bullpen, either. Corey Knebel and Josh Hader will serve as an intimidating closer and fireman, respectively, but beyond them there’s plenty of uncertainty. The recently-signed Matt Albers isn’t a lock to repeat the figures of his career year in 2017, and Boone Logan is returning from a lat strain that sidelined him for the final two months of his contract with the Indians last season. The remainder of the club’s relief corps is a ragtag group that includes Junior Guerra, Jacob Barnes, Olivier Drake and the declining Jeremy Jeffress. The bridge to Hader and Knebel is a rickety one.

    Milwaukee’s offense can probably be looked at as a strength, but it’s not without holes of its own. It remains to be seen whether Jonathan Villar can bounce back from an incredibly poor 2017 campaign during which he struck out more than 30% of the time and posted an on-base percentage below .300. The club will also count on 30-year-old catcher Manny Pina to sustain his sudden offensive breakout.

    That being said, the Brewers lineup on the whole is intimidating, to say the least, particularly if the young Orlando Arcia takes another step forward, Travis Shaw keeps his foot on the gas and Ryan Braun remains mostly healthy. If things break right, their offense could end up being on par with those of the Cubs and Cardinals.

    It’s time for the readers to weigh in. Sure, there’s some offseason left to go, and a pitching market that could certainly shift the division’s power balance once the dominoes begin to fall. But as things stand right now, do you think the Brewers are a playoff team?

    (Poll link for app users)

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/29/18]]> 2018-01-30T02:29:21Z 2018-01-30T02:20:59Z We’ll collect the minor league transactions from today in this post…

    • The Cardinals have added right-handed starter Nestor Molina (no relation) on a minor-league contract, says Jenifer Langosch of Formerly a top prospect in the Blue Jays’ system, Molina is perhaps best known for being traded to the White Sox in exchange for Sergio Santos during the 2011-2012 offseason. The 29-year-old has never pitched at the MLB level, and has spent the bulk of the past two years pitching in the Mexican league. During the 2017 campaign, he pitched 152 2/3 innings across 23 starts to the tune of a 1.89 ERA. He’ll serve as an interesting depth piece for a Cardinals organization that has some question marks in its rotation, though it should be noted that Molina has only ever pitched four innings above the Double-A level.
    • The Brewers have re-signed 27-year-old second baseman Gabriel Noriega to a minors pact, the team’s player development account announced today on Twitter. Noriega’s spent ten years in the minors, shuffling between the Royals, Mariners, Brewers and Diamondbacks organizations. He’s hovered around a 50 wRC+ over the past two seasons in the upper minors. Noriega was originally signed out of Venezuela by the Mariners, and remained in the club’s farm system through the 2014 season.
    • The Nationals inked Reid Brignac to a minors pact that includes a spring training invite, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports on Twitter. Brignac, 32, has seen time at the major league level with the Braves, Marlins, Phillies, Rockies, Yankees and Rays while playing mostly at shortstop. Though he’s played below replacement level in each of the past seven seasons, Brignac has generally been an above-average defender. Perhaps that could be reason enough for Washington to look past his career .219/.264/.309 slash line and give him a shot at a utility infielder role.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Brewers Sign Lorenzo Cain]]> 2018-01-30T00:11:27Z 2018-01-30T00:10:58Z January 29th, 6:10pm: Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports has the details on some incentives in Cain’s contract (Twitter links). The outfielder will reportedly earn $300K every time he makes the All-Star team. He’ll also earn $500K if he’s ever named league MVP, $250K if he finishes second through fifth in the MVP voting, and $125K if he finishes 6th through 10th. Cain can also make an extra $50K by winning the World Series MVP award, and he’ll pocket $25K any time he wins a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, or LCS MVP. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports confirms the incentives, and notes that the Brewers will also reserve a suite for Cain at Miller Park during 20 games each season, while pointing out that the estimated value of Cain’s contract with deferments in mind is actually $78,917,630.

    January 26th, 2:48pm: Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Cain will earn $13MM in 2018, $14MM in 2019, $15MM in 2020, $16MM in 2021 and $17MM in 2022 (Twitter links). He’ll also receive an additional, deferred payment of $1MM in each of the five years following the contract’s conclusion. The no-trade provision offers complete protection in year one of the deal and limited protection each season thereafter, dropping down to five teams in the final year of the contract. More specifically,’s Adam McCalvy adds that Cain can block deals to 15 teams in 2019, seven teams in 2020 and five in 2021-22.

    12:00pm: In a stunning turn, the Brewers even further bolstered their outfield, announcing on Friday that they’ve signed Lorenzo Cain to a five-year pact that will reportedly guarantee him $80MM. The All Bases Covered client will reportedly pick up no-trade rights as well, with full protection early in the contract and more limited no-trade provisions in its later years.


    Cain will join Christian Yelich in a stunningly re-made Milwaukee outfield — opening up new avenues for trades of existing players that could shake the market. The signing also breaks open a moribund free agent signing period, with a premium player scoring a big contract for the first time in weeks.

    Entering the day, the Brewers featured Ryan Braun and Domingo Santana in the corners, with a trio of young options — Keon Broxton, Lewis Brinson, and Brett Phillips — up the middle. Now, Brinson is out, Cain and Yelich are in, and the remaining players (excepting, perhaps, Braun) appear to be possible trade chips.

    [RELATED: Updated Brewers Depth Chart]

    Milwaukee had a clear need to improve its rotation when the winter started, particularly given uncertainty surrounding righty Jimmy Nelson. The organization has decided first to improve the outfield, though that could all be part of a plan to move other assets for starting pitching. Santana and Phillips could both be hotly pursued assets, with a variety of teams — the Athletics, Braves, and Rays all make some degree of sense on paper — potentially representing suitors with some pitching on offer.

    As much as the signing could mean for the trade market, it’s a welcome sign for players anxiously watching a slow-motion free agent period. In MLBTR’s top 50 free agent ranking, we predicted that Cain would secure $70MM over four years, so this represents a strong contract for the excellent but soon-to-be 32-year-old outfielder. The contract is the first this winter that guarantees more than three seasons and more than $60MM. Cain becomes only the second of MLBTR’s ten top-rated free agents who has signed to this point.

    It’s equally intriguing to consider the teams that missed out on Cain. Crasnick again has the details, tweeting that the Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, and Indians were involved in the market. While San Francisco was long known to have interest, tempered by its luxury tax considerations, the other clubs are all rather eye-opening pursuers in various regards. Los Angeles has been tough to decipher all winter long as it watches its own payroll. The Cubs have a fairly well-stocked outfield mix but seem to have irons in a variety of fires. And the Indians have signaled they don’t have much more to spend, but were evidently still willing to consider a major win-now move (presumably with other salary-shedding efforts to accompany it).

    It seems hard to recall after his years in Kansas City, but Cain was once a Brewer. Indeed, he joined the Milwaukee organization as a 17th-round pick way back in 2004. As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes on Twitter, both Cain and Jeremy Jeffress have returned to the Brewers after being dealt to the Royals in the 2010 Zack Greinke swap.

    In the interim, Cain has emerged as a star. He reached his career pinnacle in 2015, turning in elite efforts at the plate, on the bases, and in the field to rack up 6.5 fWAR. After a step back in the ensuing season, which was marred in part by injury, Cain emerged again in 2017.

    While initial reports connecting Cain to Milwaukee this offseason came as somewhat of a surprise, it appears he’s been on their radar since the onset of free agency. “They said from the minute free agency opened that I was on the top of their list,” Cain said in a chat with’s Jeffrey Flanagan.. “We just had to work through all the details, and eventually we both got to the numbers we liked.”

    Even if Cain’s superstar-level ’15 output isn’t likely to be repeated, the Brewers will hope he can keep up his most recent efforts. Last year, Cain dropped his strikeout rate to a career-low 15.5%, walked at a career-best 8.4%, compiled 15 home runs and 26 steals, and ended with an even .300 batting average. While metrics now grade him more as a good than a great fielder in center, Cain remains a high-quality all-around performer.

    Since Cain rejected a qualifying offer from the Royals, draft compensation will result from the signing. As an organization that received revenue sharing and did not go past the competitive balance tax line in 2017, Milwaukee will have to sacrifice its third-highest draft pick. Notably, MLBTR has confirmed that Competitive Balance draft picks are exempt from this type of forfeiture, however, meaning the Brewers will only have to surrender their third-round selection. For the Royals, bidding adieu to Cain — since he signed for more than $50MM — will mean recouping a pick after the end of the first round of the 2018 draft.

    Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported the agreement (via Twitter).’s Jerry Crasnick reported the terms of the deal (Twitter links).

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Brewers Agree To Terms With Matt Albers]]> 2018-01-29T18:21:19Z 2018-01-29T18:02:27Z 12:02pm: Nicholson-Smith tweets that Albers will have a $2.5MM base salary in each season of the contract, and his incentives begin kicking in with his 35th appearance. He’d max out his incentives by appearing in 65 games in each season of the contract.

    11:50am: The Brewers and free agent righty Matt Albers have reached an agreement on a two-year deal, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). Albers, a client of SSG Baseball, will be guaranteed $5MM on the contract and can earn another $1MM each year based on total appearances, according to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith (Twitter link). The deal is pending a physical.

    Matt Albers | Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

    Albers, who turned 35 last week, was the most consistent member of the Nationals’ bullpen in 2017, pitching to a pristine 1.62 ERA with 9.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.89 HR/9 and a 51 percent ground-ball rate through 61 innings of work. It represented a terrific bounce-back campaign for Albers, who’d limped to a 6.31 ERA in 51 1/3 innings with the White Sox in 2016.

    There are, it should be noted, some indications that Albers had his share of good fortune in 2017, as well, though. His 8.7 percent swinging-strike rate was below the league average and not what one would expect from a pitcher that whiffed better than a batter per inning — a feat he’d achieved in only one season prior to 2017 (with the Red Sox way back in 2011). Albers also benefited from a minuscule .203 BABIP, though while that mark is in for some regression, the extent of said regression may not be as great as one might think at first glance.

    Albers posted a hefty 15.9 percent infield-fly rate in 2017, and his batted-ball profile was among the most encouraging of any reliever in the game. Albers allowed a measly 22.8 percent hard-hit rate against him, which was the third-lowest mark in MLB among qualified relievers. He also induced 30.9 soft-contact rate, which was good for the fourth-best in the bigs.

    Since establishing himself as a regular big league reliever back in 2009, Albers has been a rather durable asset, appearing in 55+ games in seven of those nine seasons. He was limited to 37 1/3 innings in 2015, though that year was truncated by a broken finger rather than any sort of arm injury. Shoulder trouble kept him out of action for all but 10 innings of the 2014 season, but that’s been the only instance of a notable arm injury keeping him on the shelf for a prolonged period in nearly a decade’s time.

    [Related: Updated Milwaukee Brewers depth chart]

    Albers won’t factor into the closing mix in Milwaukee, where Corey Knebel is fresh off a breakout season in which he stepped into the spotlight as one of the game’s top strikeout artists. However, the veteran Albers will join lefty Boone Logan as a newly signed addition to manager Craig Counsell’s relief corps, where he’ll pair with Jacob Barnes, Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader to help bridge the gap from the team’s rotation to Knebel at the end of the game.

    It’s been an aggressive week for Milwaukee, of course, as GM David Stearns and his staff have also signed Lorenzo Cain and pulled off a blockbuster to acquire Christian Yelich within the past four days alone. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio gave signals over the weekend, too, that the Brew Crew still has the payroll capacity to add a top starting pitcher if Stearns & Co. feel the right deal presents itself.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Rosenthal’s Latest: Mets, Domingo, Nationals, Kipnis]]> 2018-01-29T01:49:27Z 2018-01-29T01:49:27Z Here are some of the latest hot stove whisperings overheard by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, detailed in his latest column (insider subscription required and highly recommended)…

    • The Mets are “weighing” four players as potential solutions to their need at second and/or third base. They’re interested in free agents Eduardo Nunez, Todd Frazier and former Met Neil Walker, while also exploring the possibility of adding Josh Harrison via trade. The latter would require the Amazins to fork over young outfielder Brandon Nimmo, according to Rosenthal’s sources. Of course, the team has all of Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto under control for at least the next three seasons, and Rosenthal posits that they shouldn’t cling too tightly to a fourth outfielder if trading him could help improve their chances in 2018. Furthermore, pivoting to Walker could “spark justifiable criticism” that the Mets are reassembling a losing team; they’ve already re-signed Jose Reyes and Bruce.
    • Trade speculation surrounding Brewers outfielder Domingo Santana has spiked ever since the team acquired Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain just minutes later. But although he slugged 30 homers last season and is just 25 years of age, his trade value may not be as high as one might think. Rosenthal quotes rival executives saying that Santana is “a bad defender” and “not a winning player.” Those comments come off a bit extreme, but it’s worth noting that he struck out in nearly 30% of his plate appearances last season while being worth -5 Defensive Runs Saved in the outfield.
    • While it’s been oft-reported that Nationals GM Mike Rizzo isn’t willing to part with top prospect Victor Robles in a trade, Rosenthal suggests that the club could be willing to give up Michael Taylor if his involvement in a deal would help the club net Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. On the other hand, some officials in the organization aren’t keen on giving up a player who’s a fairly safe option in the outfield while Adam Eaton is coming off a significant surgery and Bryce Harper is set to become a free agent next winter.
    • The Yankees reportedly showed some interest in Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis at some point this offseason. However, that interest has apparently cooled of late. While his contribution towards the luxury tax threshold isn’t significant ($8.75MM per season), his actual remaining salary ($30.5MM guaranteed over two years) might be considered somewhat of a risk for a bounce-back candidate; one rival executive says he’s worth a shot, but not at that price. The 30-year-old Kipnis spent significant time on the DL last season with shoulder and hamstring injuries, and hit just .232/.291/.414 last season when healthy.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Brewers’ Rotation]]> 2018-01-28T22:32:30Z 2018-01-28T22:32:01Z As of now, right-handers Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and Jhoulys Chacin are the only locks for Milwaukee’s 2018 rotation, manager Craig Counsell suggested to reporters, including Adam McCalvy of, on Sunday (Twitter link). Barring further moves, Brandon Woodruff, Brent Suter, Yovani Gallardo, Junior Guerra and Aaron Wilkerson are in line to compete for the final two sports, according to Counsell.

    Conspicuously absent from that group is left-hander Josh Hader, a former starter prospect who entered the offseason with his future role in question after he dominated out of the Brewers’ bullpen as a rookie in 2017. General manager David Stearns announced Sunday that the soon-to-be 24-year-old Hader will remain a reliever to begin 2018, meaning he won’t factor into their starting competition (via McCalvy, on Twitter)

    While Hader won’t be among the Brewers’ season-opening rotation possibilities, the mix seems likely to feature at least one more newcomer besides Chacin and Gallardo. Owner Mark Attanasio confirmed that’s Milwaukee’s interested in adding starting help, saying, “You can never have enough pitching and David (Stearns) is working on it.” While they’re reportedly unlikely to sign either Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb, Attanasio stated that the Brewers do have the payroll space to pick up a high-end free agent starter (Twitter links via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

    After reeling in outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich this week, the Brewers’ commitments for 2018 come in around $92MM – a significant bump over their $63MM-plus Opening Day payrolls from 2016-17. Since 2005, Attanasio’s first season as Milwaukee’s owner, the team has twice exceeded the $100MM Opening Day payroll mark. They’d figure to blow past that figure by signing any of Darvish, Cobb, Jake Arrieta or Lance Lynn.

    Beyond the four best available hurlers, free agency is lacking impact starters, which could point the Brewers toward a trade if they don’t sign one of the top names. They’ve shown reported interest this offseason in Chris Archer (Rays), Patrick Corbin (Diamondbacks) and Danny Salazar (Indians), though it’s unclear how willing any of those teams are to move those starters. There’s plenty of speculation the Brewers will try to parlay their outfield logjam into rotation help by dealing Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton and/or Brett Phillips, but it’s an open question whether any of those three would help the club land a coveted front-end starter in return.

    With 2017 ace Jimmy Nelson recovering from a serious procedure (surgery on a partially torn right labrum) and unlikely to return until the summertime, it’s fair to say the Brewers could use another proven option for their rotation. Although Milwaukee’s starters finished eighth in the majors in fWAR (13.3) and 10th in ERA (4.10) during its near-playoff season in 2017, Nelson’s work over 175 1/3 innings (4.9 fWAR, 3.49 ERA) significantly contributed to those rankings. It’s now anyone’s guess what he’ll provide in 2018, which could help lead to the Brewers making a splash on the pitching market.