David Stearns does the unexpected one more time, and the month of January has become his magic month. Unless you dwell in caves, you know that the Brewers struck a trade for Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain last January. This year it is happening again. Yasmani Grandal signed a one-year contract for $18.25 million to join the Brew Crew. The Brewers are absolutely in “go-for-it” mode. The next step could be the signing of a second or third baseman.
The Milwaukee Brewers did their best work last January, and they’re following the same pattern this year. First came yesterday’s surprise signing of catcher Yasmani Grandal, and now the Brewers are in heavy pursuit of an infielder to play second or third base, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 10, 2019
In whom might the Brewers be in heavy pursuit? One infielder off that market is Brian Dozier, who signed a 1-year, $9 million contract with the Washington Nationals. Even with that signing, the number of options in play for Stearns and Company is plentiful. In fact, there is more supply than demand, especially since Washington, Oakland, San Diego, Minnesota, and possibly Colorado (Daniel Murphy may play first base and leave an opening at second) have filled their infield needs.
Free Agent Options:
The most likely route for the Brewers to take is to sign a free agent from the large pool on the market. Just some of the options are:
- Mike Moustakas: Could the Moose be on the loose again in Miller Park in 2019? Of all the options available, he has the most power. His power should translate to Miller Park more than it did in Kaufman Stadium, even though that was not the case in a small sample in 2018. He has tremendous postseason experience that would be valuable for a 2019 run to playoff contention. We know he gels in the Brewers clubhouse, and has the California Strong affiliation and friendship with Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun, and Mark Attanasio’s son, Mike as well as his connection to Lorenzo Cain while with the Royals. This option might be about more than just performance for David Stearns. It might be about team chemistry and competitive makeup.
- Jed Lowrie: It looks like Lowrie will not be back for Oakland in 2019 with the acquisition of Jurickson Profar and Franklin Barreto waiting in the wings. Not many second basemen have been as productive at the plate as Jed Lowrie over the past couple of years. He slashed .267/.353/.448 with 23 home runs and a 122 wRC+ in 2018. Milwaukee has been connected to Lowrie, and this is another player Stearns is familiar with because of his former role in Houston. There is a real possibility in this acquisition.
- D.J. LeMahieu: At 30 years old, the former Rockies second baseman has won a batting title and demonstrates strong contact skills (12.6%-14.1% K% past three years). His slash in 2018 was .276/.321/.428. He would look good in a Brewers uniform, but he would likely require a longer term contract than Stearns is willing to give.
- Josh Harrison: Another versatile player, Harrison can play anywhere. He has been a Brewers nemesis, and bringing such a player to Milwaukee would be satisfying. Harrison had a great year in 2014, and has been an above average player (1.2-2.6 WAR) from 2015-2017. The Brewers have shown interest.
- Marwin Gonzalez: Quite possibly the best utility player in the sport, Gonzalez is 29 years old and can play anywhere on the field including a competent shortstop. He is also a pretty good hitter. His 2018 slash was .247/.324/.409 at that was with a slow start. His 2017 was fantastic as his wRC+ was 144 and was a 4 win player. David Stearns is familiar with Gonzalez from his Astros days.
- Asdrubal Cabrera: The only thing this guy does is produce with the bat (wRC+ 120 in 2016, 112 in 2017, and 111 in 2018). He can play second, third, and shortstop (if we squint real hard). He is not a strong defender. Getting Cabrera on a one year deal might be a perfect bridge to Keston Hiura.
There are other free agent options that the Brewers could consider, such as Neil Walker, Derek Dietrich, and Logan Forsythe. There might be an outside chance of a trade for the player Stearns is pursuing, such as Whit Merrifield, Jason Kipnis, or Joe Panik.
Maybe the chatter of “heavy pursuit” isn’t real. The Brewers could quite possibly go into the season with a platoon of Hernan Perez and Cory Spangenberg. However, if Stearns and company are really in heavy pursuit of an infielder, another January surprise could be very exciting.
Baseball statistics courtesy of Fangraphs