We’re now only about a month and a half away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, and baseball’s free agent market is again moving at a glacial pace.
That includes the second base market, where there are more quality veteran free agents than teams needing second base help. The Brewers are one of those teams, but since they don’t figure to need a longterm solution at the position, general manager David Stearns seems content to wait and see what falls into his lap.
Still, it looks like the team is keeping an eye on its options. In his latest for The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal notes that the Brewers “like” former Minnesota Twin and (shortly) Los Angeles Dodger Brian Dozier.
Milwaukee was linked to Dozier in trade talks last July before he ultimately went to LA. While there was more than a little griping about the Dodgers getting Dozier while Jonathan Schoop struggled in Milwaukee, Dozier ended up not being much better for LA, hitting just .182/.300/.350 in 47 games while Schoop hit .202/.246/.331 in 46 games for the Brewers.
Dozier has never hit for average, but has shown a good eye at the plate while possessing good power for a second baseman. Despite hitting just .215/.305/.391 overall in 2018, Dozier still managed to put up 21 home runs and 30 doubles. That made it 6 years in a row Dozier had at least 30 doubles, and 5 years in a row with at least 20 home runs — although it’s a far cry from the 42 he hit in 2016 or 34 he hit in 2017.
For what it’s worth, also in that column, Rosenthal reports the reason why Troy Tulowitzki — who the Brewers were rumored to have some interest in, even sending three officials to his workout earlier this winter — signed with the Yankees is because they were able to guarantee him a chance to be the team’s Opening Day shortstop with Didi Gregorious out for at least the first half of the year while he recovers from Tommy John surgery. That’s something the Brewers couldn’t necessarily guarantee (outside of the fact that they also are not the New York Yankees).
Along with the note connecting the Brewers with Dozier, Rosenthal also makes it sound like a Mike Moustakas return to Milwaukee isn’t out of the question. He notes the close friendship that’s developed between Moustakas and Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun, as the three California natives have worked for much of the offseason to raise money for wildfire relief. Apparently, Moustakas is also friends with Mark Attanasio’s son, Mike.
Rosenthal suggests bringing Moustakas back would mean keeping Travis Shaw at second base, which would pose an interesting question on what that means for Keston Hiura. Any deal to bring Moustakas back would likely have to be for multiple years, barring a second straight winter where his market collapsed (less likely this year, considering he no longer has a draft pick attached to his signing). Travis Shaw also has three more years of team control left and would seem to be unlikely to be moved. One of those two could possibly move to first base, but that would also mean putting Jesus Aguilar on the bench (or on another team).
Of course, we learned last year that perceived logjams aren’t always true logjams, and the Brewers will end up finding at-bats for everyone, either through planned playing time rotations, injuries, or ineffectiveness.
In either case, whether it’s Dozier or Moustakas, it’s probably a safe bet that we won’t see anything decided on either for another few weeks yet, judging by the way the market has shaken out to this point. There are almost a dozen options for second base still out there — whether by free agency or trade. Stearns hasn’t acted because he hasn’t had to act, and that’s unlikely to change until we get closer to Spring Training.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference