The Brewers have outrighted outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis to Triple-A Colorado Springs, per a team announcement. Nieuwenhuis, whom the Brewers designated for assignment Friday, cleared waivers, though he could have elected free agency. He’ll instead stay with the organization and earn a $257K salary in the minors.
Niewenhuis was a useful reserve for the Brewers last season, when the lefty-swinger hit .209/.324/.385 with 13 home runs and eight steals across 392 plate appearances. He also saw time at all three outfield spots and graded well in the field, registering one Defensive Runs Saved and a 5.4 UZR/150. Despite that output over a much larger sample size than this season’s, the Brewers booted the 29-year-old from their 40-man roster after he opened 2017 with a horrid .080/.233/.240 batting line in 30 PAs. Niewenhuis struck out in half of those plate trips – a vast increase over the high K rate (33.9 percent) he posted last year.
In the wake of Starling Marte’s suspension, the NL Central rival Pirates at least discussed swinging a trade for Nieuwenhuis, but they’ll instead look elsewhere for outfield help. The Brewers, meanwhile, have two outfield-capable reserves, Nick Franklin and Hernan Perez, on their 25-man roster behind starters Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana. Slugging first baseman Eric Thames is also an option, while Lewis Brinson, Brett Phillips and Ryan Cordell represent minor league outfielders on Milwaukee’s 40-man. However, a promotion for Brinson, one of the game’s top prospects, isn’t imminent, as Adam McCalvy of MLB.com wrote Saturday.