The past week and a half has been very stressful for fans of the Milwaukee Brewers. They lost their three biggest free agents in Yasmani Grandal, Drew Pomeranz, and Mike Moustakas. They traded Zach Davies along with young, promising outfielder Trent Grisham to San Diego for 24 year old LHP Eric Lauer and 22 year old INF Luis Urias. The club also chose to non-tender some big and surprising names such as Travis Shaw, Jimmy Nelson, and Junior Guerra. As well as declining the option on Eric Thames for 2020 and trading Chase Anderson to the Blue Jays in a salary dump. Trade rumors have been circulating around Josh Hader, Lorenzo Cain, and Keston Hiura. These roster moves have left many fans (myself included) going : “What’s going on here?”.
I was surprised to see Milwaukee let all three of the free agents walk. I really thought they would get one of Moustakas or Grandal to come back. Each of them got a four year deal. Recent free agent deals that have a longer term on them have not panned out across baseball in the past. Moustakas and Grandal are each entering their mid thirties and I can understand why Milwaukee was not willing to give out the contracts these guys received. With that being said, I’m glad these guys got their big pay day. Moustakas has been more than deserving of a big ticket his previous two times in free agency as well as Grandal taking a one year deal with the Brewers last season.
I really like the trade Milwaukee made with San Diego, for both sides. Zach Davies was made to pitch in a pitchers park like Petco. His tendency to give up fly balls is a perfect recipe for a sub 3.50 ERA next season. Losing Trent Grisham hurts, but I believe the Brewers traded him when his value was at its highest. He showed flashes of being a spectacular player who came up with big hits. He more than likely will be a solid outfielder for San Diego. Eric Lauer is a promising young arm who showed improvement from his 2018 rookie season last year. His numbers are sort of comparable to Chase Anderson, but left handed and 8 years younger. Luis Urias is clearly the big piece coming back to Milwaukee however. His AAA numbers last season were incredible (I know the AAA numbers were ridiculous across the board last season). Urias has yet to translate his numbers in the minors to major league production. He is only 22 however and is an upgrade on Arcia immediately. Urias’ .329 OBP at the major league level is encouraging, hopefully he can find his swing with the Brewers.
None of the guys Milwaukee tendered offers to surprised me (Arcia, Gamel, Hader, Knebel, Suter). What did surprise me is non tendering Nelson and Guerra. Travis Shaw is a big name who was non-tendered, but it didn’t surprise me. I’m a huge Travis Shaw fan and it was really tough to watch his struggles last season. I was really hoping to see him turn it around. It makes sense for the club to cut ties and give Shaw a fresh start. I’m sure he will find a role and thrive elsewhere. Jimmy Nelson surprises me because I feel like they should’ve given him a chance at a full season of being healthy. Junior Guerra was Stearns’ first acquisition and has been a very reliable guy for the Brewers.
Eric Thames had a solid bounce back year after injuries derailed his 2018 season. He took over first base full time by the end of 2019. Thames essentially had the same season he had in 2017. I would’ve liked to see him back in a Brewer uniform this year. I wonder if they’re exploring having Braun play first base everyday in 2020.
As far as the trade rumors go, I don’t see any one of Hader, Cain, or Hiura moving this offseason. Moving any of these guys makes your club worse and I don’t think the Brewers are even close to being done contending for the playoffs. I think these were floated out there to see if teams would pay the sun and the moon for them.
Overall, I really don’t know what to make of this offseason so far. They have seemingly cut ties with a lot of players I have positive emotional ties to (Shaw, Nelson, Thames, Moustakas) so it’s hard not to be upset about some of the decision making. Putting my bias aside, I like that they have freed up quite a bit of money. With that being said, they need to spend it. Not necessarily on a top free agent, but a few decent ones on shorter term deals. These next few weeks will be interesting as the hot stove gets hotter!