Non-tender candidates for Brewers to sign
As most Milwaukee fans might realize, the Brewers still need to fill out their roster this offseason.
It’s only December, so no reason to panic (honest).
General manager David Stearns has been busy so far and certainly there’s more moves on the way. Already Milwaukee has swung two trades, watched two big-name free agents leave and brought back some players who are arbitration-eligible and non-tendered some others.
The Brewers weren’t the only team to let players go who could have headed to arbitration. While we posted a Hot Stove primer earlier this offseason, the free-agent market now has a few more names added to the list.
Here’s a few players that were non-tendered who could be a fit for the Brewers (listed in alphabetical order):
RP Jason Adam
The right-handed throwing Adam has little major-league experience, but there’s some upside here. In 2018 with Kansas City, he struck out 10.2 batters per nine innings in 32 1/3 innings (although he had a 6.12 ERA). Last season in 21 2/3 innings with Toronto, he posted a 2.08 ERA and 1.154 WHIP. Adam has had control problems in the majors (4.2 BB/9) but in nearly 600 minor-league innings he has a 1.263 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9 and 7.9 K/9.
1B CJ Cron
With last year’s first basemen (Eric Thames, Jesus Aguilar, Yasmani Grandal, Tyler Austin, Travis Shaw and Hernan Perez all played there; only Jacob Nottingham, with 1 2/3 innings at that position, remains) off the roster, the slugging Cron could be a fit at Miller Park. After four year with the Angels, Cron hit 30 homers for Tampa Bay in 2018. The Rays waived him in the offseason and he was picked up by Minnesota, where he hit 25 home runs. While Cron can hit ‘em out of the park, his defense is below average, however.
UT Charlie Culberson
We know manager Craig Counsell loves guys who can play all over the field. In the past two seasons with Atlanta, Culberson played every position except center field and catcher while batting a respectable .267/.316/.457 with 17 homers in that span. Don’t expect him to be a full-time player (he’s never had more than 322 plate appearances) but he could be a valuable member of the bench (and bullpen blowouts; he’s tossed three innings allowing one run in the past two years combined).
3B Maikel Franco
With Mike Moustakas and Shaw gone, Milwaukee is in need of a third baseman. Could Luis Urias fit there? Sure, but he’s only played one game in the majors at that position and he’s not a prototypical third baseman. Franco certainly carries some risk. Once thought of as an up-and-coming player in Philadelphia, he slumped badly with the Phillies often during his six-year career there. Still, he hit 20+ home runs in Philly three times, had 17 last season and 14 in just 80 games as a rookie in 2015. Perhaps a change of scenery will do him well. That’s what whichever team signs him will be hoping.
RP Yimi Garcia
The Dodgers can’t keep everyone and they decided to let the right-handed 29-year-old Garcia hit the market. Garcia allowed just 5.8 hits per nine innings last year while striking out 9.5 per 9, seemingly a good fit for any pen. In 62 1/3 innings, he recorded a 3.61 ERA and 0.866 WHIP. His BB/9 is 1.7 over 159 2/3 MLB innings while he’s fanned 10.8 per 9. But before 2019, he’d only pitched in 30 1/2 MLB innings since 2015 (when he had 56 2/3) as injuries, including Tommy John surgery which caused him to miss all of 2017, limited his time on the mound.
SP/RP Kevin Gausman
The former No. 4 overall pick by Baltimore in 2012, Gausman never lived up to his hype with the Orioles, who dealt him to Atlanta at the 2018 trade deadline. He fared even worse with the Braves, who waived him, where he was picked up by Cincinnati. With the Reds, Gausman was moved to the bullpen and posted a 4.03 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9 and 11.7 K/9 in 22 1/3 innings. He could perhaps fit as a starter (Gausman has topped 179 innings three times), reliever or a swing man for a team thinking they can find that promise which led Gausman to be drafted so high 7 1/2 years ago.
UT Jose Peraza
Peraza might be looking to land a starting shortstop gig somewhere, but if he’s OK with a utility role the Brewers could be interested. Peraza played second, short, third, left field and center field last year (and pitched in two games) and in each of his five seasons has appeared in both the infield and outfield. He’s coming off a year in which he hit just .239/.285/.346, but batted .288/.326/.416 with 14 homers and 23 steals in 2018. He’s a lifetime .273 hitter and has 77 steals in 520 career games. Sounds like a perfect utility guy to us.
RP Blake Treinen
An All-Star closer with Oakland in 2018, Treinen stumbled badly in 2019 and was non-tendered. He recorded 38 saves to go with an 0.78 ERA, 0.834 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 in ’18 but last season saw his HR/9 rise from 0.2/9 to 1.4/9 and his BB/9 jump to 5.7/9 from 2.4/9. Overall he had a 4.91 ERA, 1.619 WHIP and 9.1K/9. In his six-year career with Washington and the A’s, Treinen has a 2.97 ERA , 1.283 WHIP and 8.8 K/9. The question for teams will be can he remaster his days of glory? Someone will definitely take a chance that he can – but at what cost?
SP Taijuan Walker
A one-time top prospect with Seattle, Walker has been limited to just 14 innings over the last two seasons due to injury. But in his last full year, 2017 with Arizona, he posted a 3.49 ERA and 8.4 K/9 in 157 1/3 innings. Finally healthy and not turning 28 until August, the right-handed Walker could be a nice upside addition to any rotation (especially one like Milwaukee which has an opening or two).