Dan Jennings, Xavier Cedeno, and Jonathan Schoop ended up non-tendered, but right-hander Junior Guerra will get a contract for 2019. Why did the Milwaukee Brewers keep the 34-year old right-hander?
Junior Guerra was the Milwaukee Brewers’ Opening Day starter in 2017. He didn’t make the Opening Day roster in 2018. However, he did manage to finish third on the team in innings thrown last year. But it came with only a 1.7 WAR value. Did GM David Stearns forget he was on the roster, or is there another reason the Brewers are keeping Guerra in the fold?
How was Guerra’s 2018 season?
After a rough 2017 campaign, Guerra started the 2018 season in Triple-A. He was called up after a few weeks in Colorado Springs, and made his season debut on April 11th.
Guerra ended the year with a 4.09 ERA in 141 innings. He made 26 starts and five relief appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018. Guerra struck out 136, gave up 55 walks, and was tagged for 19 homers.
How did Guerra stay on the roster?
Great question. He posted a 3.23 ERA before the All-Star break, but struggled with a 6.02 ERA in the second half of the season. However, he did make a big change down the stretch that helped him not only stay on the roster for the playoffs, but also earn a contract for 2019.
For his career, Guerra has been fastball heavy with a splitter and slider as secondary offerings. He developed a curveball that he used to impressive effect as a reliever in the final month of the season. Guerra threw his new curveball 80 times in the final month of the year, and hitters only went 1-for-22 against it. He essentially traded his mediocre slider for a really good curveball, and it looks like it’s saved his career.
How much will Guerra earn in 2019?
Guerra earned $545k last year, but should get a raise in the $2.5-to-$2.8 million range depending on how good his agent is in arbitration. He could also work out a deal with the Brewers before his arbitration hearing.
What role will Guerra have in 2019?
It’s hard to see Guerra working his way into a starting role in 2019, but stranger things have happened. He did start twice for the Major League team that went on the recent tour of Japan, but he has to win a starting job on a crowded Milwaukee Brewers roster.
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Jhoulys Chacin, Chase Anderson, Jimmy Nelson, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, and Zach Davies are currently ahead of Guerra on the depth chart. A relief role is much more likely for Guerra in 2019 with as many as four spots that have to be figured out for 2019, including the long relief role. A reinvented Guerra should managed to earn one of them.