rickieweeks

It’s Early, But Brewers Facing Tough Decisions Already

(Cloudy the future is.  Zuma Images)

It could all be talk or it could lead to something happening.  The Milwaukee Brewers’ roster construction heading into Spring Training suggested that some players may be on the outside looking in to start the season.  That group would seemingly include out-of-options infielders Jeff Bianchi and Juan Francisco.  In addition, minor league-contract signees Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds are on the bubble, and Rickie Weeks’ name continues to swirl in rumors.  On Wednesday a report by George A. King III surfaced via the New York Post suggesting the Brewers were scouting New York Yankee backup catchers, which is a surprise considering how fortified the catching position was thought to be for Milwaukee at the major league level. 

With Jonathan Lucroy entrenched as the starter and a leaner Martin Maldonado thought to be a lock as the second catcher, the Brewers have said little about interest in pursuing a catcher.  But perhaps that’s part of the plan: keep it quiet.  Catching help is rarely cheap, and maybe the Brewers want to act casually while they pursue depth behind the dish.  Maldonado presumably has an option left, but it seems unlikely they’d send him to the minors.  Would the Brewers actually pull the trigger on a trade with the Yankees if they were able to bring in Francisco Cervelli AND unload Rickie Weeks?  Or perhaps the Brewers are looking for catching help in the minor leagues and would be interested in pursuing one of the Yankees’ lower-level catchers for Weeks, with the Brewers eating part of the second baseman’s contract.  The Yankees have been known to have eyes open for additional infield candidates, and surely Weeks’ power potential interests them, to a degree.

Now Thursday comes a take from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, wondering if the Detroit Tigers could be a fit for Juan Francisco.  All of this talk could simply be conjecture, but there is merit to the thought that the Brewers could be proactive and look at trades as a way to thin out some of the fat in areas of their roster in advance of having to make cuts later in camp.  This isn’t an unusual situation for teams in Spring Training.  Since they have to trim the roster down to 25 players by the end of Spring Training, let’s see how many open spots they may have.  We’ll go around from left to right on the diamond without regard to a batting order, starting with the outfield and working in. 

Starting Eight Position Players:

1. Khris Davis

2. Carlos Gomez

3. Ryan Braun

4. Aramis Ramirez

5. Jean Segura

6. Scooter Gennett

7. Mark Reynolds

8. Jonathan Lucroy

Starting Rotation:

1. Kyle Lohse

2. Matt Garza

3. Yovani Gallardo

4. Wily Peralta

5. Marco Estrada

Bullpen:

1. Jim Henderson

2. Frankie Rodriguez (K-Rod)

3. Brandon Kintzler

4. Tyler Thornburg

5. Michael Blazek

6. Will Smith

7. Wei-Chung Wang

Bench:

1. Lyle Overbay or Juan Francisco

2. Elian Herrera

3. Logan Schafer

4. Martin Maldonado

5. Rickie Weeks

Obviously the above is just a projection, an estimate based on what is happening now.  What’s happening now is that there’s a lot of Spring Training games left, a lot of performances to be evaluated yet and a plethora of whispers and rumors about possible trades, etc. 

When the Brewers signed Mark Reynolds, they told him he’d be a virtual lock to make the team on Opening Day and even took the rare step of inviting him to the “Brewers on Deck” fan event a short time after he signed.  Lyle Overbay and Juan Francisco both bat lefty, while Reynolds is a righty.  That gives Reynolds a sharp edge, barring any other roster additions in the first base competition.  Presumably Overbay would not be interested in going to Nashville if he had major league opportunities elsewhere, and it’s likely Francisco would not clear waivers due to his potential and low salary.

As a result of all of this instability for the immediate future, it’s no surprise that the Brewers are being discussed and scouted by other teams, and that they’re doing the same.  Just how interested the Brewers are in moving Francisco, Weeks or anyone else is unclear.  They are known to be high on Francisco’s ability and may not want to trade him off just yet.  Weeks has played well in Spring Training in the very early going but with Gennett the clear second baseman of the next few years, it’d be no revelation if the Brewers were willing to part with Weeks to clear some of the logjam on the bench.  If the Yankees took on some of his salary and gave the Brewers a catcher to stash in the minor leagues, they might jump on it.  It’s all as clear as a muddy lake right now but Spring Training just got more interesting for the Brewers with the knowledge that not only is there significant competition for bullpen spots, but the bench could change radically by the end of March. 

Nick Michalski

About Nick Michalski

Nick Michalski is the managing editor and a writer at TheBrewersBar.com; he has also written for WISports.com, IrishAmericanPost.com and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @MichalskiNick.

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