The Brewers announced that they have claimed third baseman Matt Dominguez off waivers from the Astros (Twitter links). To clear room on the 40-man roster, they’ve designated left-hander Wei-Chung Wang for assignment. Dominguez has been optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs by the Brewers.
The Astros designated Dominguez for assignment last week in order to clear space on the 40-man roster for the promotion of top prospect Carlos Correa. In doing so, Houston effectively pulled the plug on one player for whom they very recently had high hopes in order to give a chance to a new young player. Dominguez was never as highly regarded a prospect as Correa, of course, but he frequented Top 100 prospect lists from 2009-12 as a member of both the Astros and Marlins organizations.
It’s easy to forget that Dominguez, who has spent parts of the past four seasons in the Majors, is still just 25 years of age. The Marlins first brought him to the Majors at just 21 years old and eventually traded him to Houston in the deal that sent Carlos Lee to Miami. Dominguez made a late-season appearance in Houston in 2012 and served as the team’s everyday third baseman in 2013-14.
That first season with an everyday gig proved to be his best to date, as he batted .241/.286/.403 with 21 homers. Despite the questionable OBP skills, Dominguez offered power and solid defense at third base, per DRS, producing 2.2 rWAR in his age-23 campaign. That’s a solid year, especially when considering his inexperience, but he took a step back in 2014, hitting just .215/.256/.330. That was concerning enough for Houston to bring in Luis Valbuena and Jed Lowrie in the winter, leaving Dominguez at Triple-A, where he continued to struggle (.251/.289/.371).
For the Brewers, though, they have little in the way of MLB-ready replacement options following the 2015 season when Aramis Ramirez retires. While Dominguez is far from a sure thing to provide them with above-average production at the hot corner — hence the DFA — he gives Milwaukee an experienced option with a good deal of team control remaining. Dominguez is all but a lock to be controllable through the 2019 season, as he’d need 110 days of MLB service to be eligible for free agency following the 2018 season, and there are only 111 days of the season remaining after tonight’s games.
With Ramirez’s name popping up in trade rumors as of late, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Dominguez eventually received an audition at the Major League level in the current season. That could theoretically push him into Super Two status and make him arbitration eligible this offseason, but his lack of recent offensive production would probably result in a relatively modest salary — especially when juxtaposed with Ramirez’s current $14MM price tag.
The 23-year-old Wang was a Rule 5 pick by the Brewers in 2013, and the team carried him on the roster through the entire 2014 season to avoid losing him, so the decision to designate him and again risk losing him was likely a tough pill to swallow. The Taiwanese southpaw pitched just 17 1/3 innings last year and yielded 21 runs, but given the fact that he was selected from the Pirates’ Rookie-level affiliate, those struggles shouldn’t be a stunning outcome. This season at Class-A Advanced, Wang has posted a 5.93 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 in 60 2/3 innings.