- The Brewers outrighted righties Steve Geltz and David Goforth, the team announced. Geltz had just been claimed off waivers, so perhaps Milwaukee will hope he clears and can be stashed. The 29-year-old struggled to a 5.74 ERA in his 26 2/3 major league frames in 2016, but was much better in prior years and also showed well at Triple-A. While Goforth had a solid debut year in 2015, he scuffled in both the majors and at Triple-A in his most recent campaign.
- The Brewers have agreed to a contract with second baseman Scooter Gennett for 2017, per Heyman (via Twitter). He receives $2.525MM, a fair sight shy of his projection of $3.0MM. Given his limited ability to face left-handed pitching, Gennett may not have fared better on the open market.
- Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis and the Brewers settled on a split contract that pays the veteran $900K in the Majors and $257K in the minors (Heyman again, on Twitter). The 29-year-old picked up 392 plate appearances in 125 games with Milwaukee, batting just .209 but logging a .324 OBP and slugging .385. The 13 homers Nieuwenhuis hit were far and away a career-best — he entered the year with just 17 home runs in 693 PAs — and he contributed solid defense across all three outfield spots.
After recently being designated for assignment, Brewers first baseman Chris Carter was officially non-tendered by the team today, the organization announced. He’ll officially enter the free-agent market.
Milwaukee had sought to work out a trade for the slugger, but obviously was unable to do so. With many other bat-first power hitters available, even Carter’s 41 home runs did not make him appealing enough to other organizations to take on what would’ve been a big arbitration number.
- The Brewers are trying to trade recently-designated-for-assignment slugger Chris Carter before tonight’s 8pm ET non-tender deadline tweets Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The Orioles, who just claimed a player with a potentially similar skill set in Adam Walker, aren’t likely to make a play for Carter, per Heyman (whose tweet came prior to the Walker claim). Carter’s current scenario is somewhat reminiscent of last year’s Mark Trumbo situation, as he’s a player with prodigious power that the league isn’t valuing at his arbitration number due to defensive concerns, high strikeout tendencies and a questionable on-base percentage. The Mariners were able to get a nominal return for Trumbo rather than non-tendering him, but MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets that Milwaukee shopped Carter around for a month before designating him, so it seems unlikely that a trade will materialize in the next six hours.
The Orioles announced today that they’ve claimed outfielder Adam Walker off waivers from the Brewers. Milwaukee claimed Walker off waivers from the Twins two weeks ago but designated him for assignment last week when they claimed right-hander Steve Geltz from the Rays.
The 25-year-old Walker fits a profile that has become somewhat of a trend in Baltimore, as he possesses enormous power but brings little defensive value to the table and strikes out in abundance. The former third-round pick has received 60 and 65 grades for his raw power (on the 20-80 scouting scale), and has homered 58 times across the past two minor league seasons. However, he punched out an incredible 202 times in 531 plate appearances at the Triple-A level this season (38 percent) and whiffed at a 34.8 percent clip at Double-A in 2015. He also lacks any true defensive position, as he’s played left field recently but is projected by most to ultimately function as a first baseman or DH if he ever breaks into the Majors. The addition of the right-handed-hitting Walker gives the Orioles 37 players on their 40-man roster.
The Brewers have announced a three-year deal with free-agent first baseman Eric Thames, who will reportedly receive a $16MM guarantee. His contract also comes with a $7.5MM option for the 2020 campaign.
Thames will receive $4MM for the 2017 season, followed by $5MM and $6MM salaries. He’s also promised a $1MM buyout on the option and can pick up $500K annually based upon plate appearances. The contract further provides that Thames must give consent to be optioned or outrighted to the minors. And he is entitled to a small assignment bonus in the event of a trade. Further, Milwaukee won’t be allowed to tender Thames at the conclusion of the deal even though he’ll remain eligible for arbitration.
As had been reported last night, the organization will clear a role and a spot by designating Chris Carter for assignment. Though Carter mashed 41 home runs last year, he’s a one-dimensional slugger and wasn’t going to be cheap. MLBTR projected him to earn $8.1MM through arbitration, and McCalvy suggests the team expected to pay even more, perhaps reflecting the possibility that he’d try to argue for his 2015 arb salary as a starting point for a raise.
Given that Carter was designated, it’s still possible he could be dealt. As MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets, the club intends to explore a possible deal in advance of the non-tender deadline, which is on Friday. Milwaukee obviously won’t have much leverage, and probably would have struck a deal already if there was an enticing offer to be found, but it’s still possible to imagine something coming together.
[RELATED: Updated Brewers Depth Chart]
Thames becomes the latest player to move from Korea to the majors, though in his case it’s a return. When last we saw the left-handed hitter in the majors, he was a young outfielder still trying to find his way. Now, he’s a 30-year-old first baseman who established himself as a monster power threat in the hitter-friendly KBO.
Over his three seasons with the NC Dinos, Thames compiled a ridiculous .348/.450/.720 batting line and swatted 124 home runs and 64 stolen bases. While those Ruthian numbers aren’t exactly unheard of in Korea, they do represent top-level production in a competitive league. It’s worth noting, too, that Thames fared rather well in terms of plate discipline, racking up 235 walks to go with his 293 strikeouts.
Just what Thames will deliver upon his return is anyone’s guess. Other KBO-to-majors hitters have been highly productive, such as Jung Ho Kang and Hyun Soo Kim. Things haven’t gone as well for Byung Ho Park, though he has shown that he has legitimate power and is only one season into his contract.
Unlike those players, Thames already has a track record in North American ball. He struck out 175 times in 684 major league plate appearances, all coming in 2011 and 2012, but was hardly unable to compete. Thames carried a .250/.296/.431 batting line and hit 21 home runs in his 181-game MLB run. He has also spent quite a bit of time at Triple-A, racking up a .312/.389/.506 slash and 23 dingers over 870 trips to the plate at the highest level of the minors.
It doesn’t hurt that Thames has a history as a corner outfielder. Milwaukee GM David Stearns noted that the added flexibility was seen as a benefit, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets. Just what kind of glove he’d bring in the outfield grass isn’t known, but Thames did play there previously and still evidently can run given his stolen base tallies.
All told, it’s an interesting gambit for the Brewers, who reportedly scouted Thames using only video of his action in Korea. He matched Carter’s long ball output there, but doing so against major league pitching will be quite another matter. Of course, Thames also holds out the promise of delivering value in other areas, and he’ll make quite a bit less annually than Carter stood to earn.
MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reported the signing (Twitter links). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links), ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links), and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (in a tweet) reported on the financial and other contract details.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Carter, 29, signed on with Milwaukee after he was non-tendered last winter by the Astros, agreeing to a one-year, $2.5MM pact. He rewarded the club with a .222/.321/.499 batting line and a league-leading 41 home runs over 644 plate appearances.
It’s certainly somewhat unusual to see a forty-homer bat set loose despite ongoing control. In fact, Carter has another year of arb eligibility beyond 2017. But it isn’t as if his prodigious power output came as a surprise; he swatted 37 dingers back in 2014.
The trouble with Carter is that he has never managed to reach base consistently. He also led the National League with 206 strikeouts last year. Then there’s the fact that he’s rather limited in the field. Carter’s days in the outfield are probably numbered, and he drew negative metrics last year at first.
MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently broke down the arbitration decision facing the Brewers, explaining that it was a tougher call than it seemed at first glance. While more than three quarters of MLBTR readers who participated in a poll felt Carter should be tendered, that wasn’t the course pursued by Milwaukee GM David Stearns.
All signs point to a move back to the American League, where Carter can spend time at DH while perhaps occasionally stepping in at first. Beyond the pure home run output, he has managed to maintain a lifetime 112 OPS+, even if it comes with a cringe-worthy batting average (.218) and OBP (.314). Carter owns a career 33.1% strikeout rate, and that probably won’t change, though he has managed to draw walks at a solid 11.6% clip. And it’s worth noting, too, that he has not traditionally carried very pronounced platoon splits.
[RELATED: Brewers Depth Chart]
Milwaukee, it seems, decided against committing that much cash to a one-dimensional player who would’ve been forced onto the field. The team isn’t exactly bristling with replacement options. The Brewers just claimed and then designated Adam Walker — a younger, cheaper player who carries Carter’s general profile at the plate — and could perhaps give him a chance if he clears waivers. Prospect Jacob Nottingham could also get a look, though perhaps the odds are that the rebuilding club will end up looking outside the organization to fill its needs at first base for 2017.
The Brewers surely would’ve preferred to find a trade partner for Carter, but his salary was likely a deterrent. And the open market is full of power options this winter, with players like Mike Napoli, Brandon Moss, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Pedro Alvarez, and Steve Pearce all expected to be available for one or two-year commitments.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Geltz will head to the Brewers, where former Rays director of player personnel Matt Arnold is now serving as the assistant GM. The 29-year-old who recorded a 5.74 ERA in 26 2/3 innings with Tampa Bay this past season but posted a more impressive 3.03 ERA with better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings during his time at Triple-A. He had a solid season out of the Tampa Bay ’pen in 2015 (3.74 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 in 67 1/3 innings) and has a 4.23 ERA in 104 1/3 innings at the big league level dating back to 2012. Milwaukee has some uncertainty in the bullpen after trading both Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith at the non-waiver trade deadline this past year, and Geltz will give them an experienced arm to add to the 2017 bullpen competition.
Walker, 25, was claimed off waivers from the Twins last week but proved to have a very brief stay on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster. The former third-round pick has massive power, having homered 58 times across the past two minor league seasons, but he also strikes out at a prodigious clip. Walker punched out an incredible 202 times in 531 plate appearances at the Triple-A level this season (38 percent) and whiffed at a 34.8 percent clip at Double-A in 2015. He also lacks any true defensive position, as he’s played left field recently but is projected by most to ultimately function as a first baseman or DH if he ever breaks into the Majors.
- Ryan Braun is struggling with the uncertainty of knowing whether the Brewers will trade him this offseason, according to the Associated Press. “Not knowing 100 percent where [I’ll] be playing is hard. It definitely complicates things,” he said. Brewers GM David Stearns, for his part, said he doesn’t have a trade involving Braun in the works. “I know that’s a big story this offseason, but I’m very happy that Ryan is a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. I expect him to be a member of the Milwaukee Brewers going forward,” Stearns said. Of course, the Brewers have already traded a long string of veterans as they’ve rebuilt, and Braun (who currently has 9.129 years of big-league service time) will acquire full no-trade protection after achieving 10-and-5 rights early in the 2017 season. There were also reported talks last summer about a deal that would have sent Braun to the Dodgers.
The Brewers have announced that they’ve claimed reliever Blake Parker off waivers from the Angels, who designated him for assignment last weekend. To clear space on their 40-man roster, they’ve designated fellow righty David Goforth for assignment.
The 32-year-old Parker has been a fixture in the transactions pages recently — he began the 2016 season with the Mariners, then headed to the Yankees and then Angels via waiver claims. He hasn’t pitched more than 21 innings in the big leagues in a season since 2013 with the Cubs, but it’s easy to see why a variety of teams have shown interest in him, since he posted an outstanding 2.72 ERA, 12.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 39 2/3 innings with Triple-A Tacoma in 2016. He also pitched 17 1/3 innings in the big leagues, posting a 4.67 ERA, 7.8 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 while registering an average fastball velocity of 92.2 MPH. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt tweets, Brewers pitching coach Derek Johnson is likely quite familiar with Parker, since Johnson was the Cubs’ minor league pitching coordinator for several years while Parker pitched in the Cubs’ system.
The 28-year-old Goforth struggled in both Triple-A and the big leagues in 2016, allowing 14 runs in 10 2/3 innings in the Brewers bullpen. He held his own in the Majors in his rookie season in 2015, but has since struggled to replicate that modest success — which isn’t a huge surprise, given control problems that have plagued him in parts of four seasons in the high minors.