The offseason is well underway and a few free agents have already found there new homes for the 2017 season. The Milwaukee Brewers have the luxury of not needing to worry about a slew of free agents who may walk. Of their five, only one is worth re-signing. They certainly have a few holes in their roster, notably at catcher and starting pitching. The free agent pool is thin at those positions, but upgrades are available.
Milwaukee Brewers 2016 Offseason Needs
Re-sign Carlos Torres
The 34-year-old was arguably the Brewers best option out of the pen last season. He ate up 82.1 innings while also maintaining a very respectable 2.73 ERA. He is also a strikeout-per-inning guy and a veteran reliever, which any team going forward appreciates and needs. What the Atlanta Braves have done in the past two days makes the picture clear. Torres’ contract will also be franchise friendly, at just $950K last season. He’ll want a raise, but he deserves one. If the Brewers can keep him for under $3 million, they have to.
Sign a Catcher
After the August 1 trade of All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, the Brewers never found an answer for behind the plate. He went on to bat .292 with 21 home runs and 81 RBI. Martin Maldonado played the majority of the games after Lucroy was dealt, but his .202 average is difficult to keep in an everyday lineup.
Will they be able to replace Lucroy with what is available on the market? No. Can they upgrade? Certainly. They should go hard after Nick Hundley to fill this position. He will be affordable and a definite upgrade. His .260 average last season is respectable, and he also belted ten home runs while driving in 47 runners. He’s no Lucroy, but the Brewers may be able to lure him from the Colorado Rockies with a three-year, $16 million offer.
Bolster the Starting Rotation
Zach Davies is blossoming as a 23-year-old and Junior Guerra had an outstanding 2016. Beyond those two, the Milwaukee rotation is a mess. The 2016 pitching staff was 28th in the league in strikeouts, with 1,175, and ranked 23rd in WHIP, at 1.38. That cannot repeat in 2017 if the Brewers want to improve on their 73-89 record. The starting pitching pool is thin and players are going to get overpaid because of it. Yet, there are a couple intriguing options for the Brewers to consider.
Doug Fister had a down year with the Houston Astros, posting a 4.64 ERA in 180.1 innings with 115 strikeouts. He signed a one-year, $7 million deal with Houston and the Brewers may be able to land the veteran on a similar deal. He owns a career ERA of 3.60 and has pitched over 1,200 innings at the MLB level. Jhoulys Chacin, 28, is coming off a season in which he pitched 144.0 innings with 119 strikeouts for the Los Angeles Angels. He will be a cheaper and younger option than Fister, and could be a solid middle-rotation pitcher for the Brewers.
The Milwauke Brewers 2016 season fell short of success. To compete with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, they will have to address the glaring holes in their roster. Building championship teams is a process; they don’t form overnight. The Brewers are beginning to assemble an arsenal of talent ready to compete.