(Ben Peters, Brewers.com)
As we head into the last days of January, things are finally starting to sort themselves out in the MLB free-agent market, particularly on the level of one-year and minor-league deals. The Brewers signed shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal for $1.5MM, with another $1MM reportedly available in incentives. The middle of the infield receives some additional stability with Gonzalez backing up and spelling young Jean Segura, and the club also has infielders Bobby Crosby, Donnie Murphy and Jeff Bianchi around in case something happens. That’s good news. Earlier in the offseason it didn’t look like ‘Sea Bass’ would return to the team but I’m glad he’ll be back. This team could use a little more veteran presence, and having Gonzalez along with Aramis Ramirez around to help out Segura will be fantastic. It’s also cool that ‘Sea Bass’ will get another try at being a Brewer for more than 24 games.
Quite a few of the remaining free-agent pitchers have been signed over the last week, including Shaun Marcum (Mets), Tim Stauffer (Padres), Jair Jurrjens (Orioles), and Freddy Garcia (Padres). It will be interesting to see where pitchers like Dallas Braden, Jonathan Sanchez and Chris Young end up as spring training approaches. The starting-pitching market is beginning to look very, very thin. That scarcity shouldn’t impact the Brewers much, though, since they don’t seem to have any interest in free-agent starters, or at least that’s the vibe. At the team’s ‘Brewers On Deck’ event, officials indicated that players could be added before camp begins, and the name of the top remaining free-agent pitcher was mentioned: Kyle Lohse. That mention raised some interesting debate once again about whether the Brewers should pursue Lohse, even if the money and length of contract were reasonable. Because of possible regression by the player as well as the draft-pick compensation tied to him, Lohse remains on the periphery of the Brewers’ scope, and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports believes he won’t sign with Milwaukee.
Hearty congratulations go out to Ben Peters of Richfield, MN, who won the Brewers’ ‘YOUniform’ contest with his superb jersey and cap featuring the Barrel Man. Hopefully the March 22 and March 30 games will be televised in some form to allow Brewers fans all over to see his amazing design. It’s awesome to see the Barrel Man get some well-deserved diligence. Hopefully this will generate some momentum for the Barrel Man to be featured on a patch full time. It's cool to see the barley along with the state logo and the Barrel Man on Ben's patch. I, for one, plan to check out the merch options for Ben’s design at Miller Park’s team store.