Second base is “a position we’re going to have to take a long look at,” Brewers GM David Stearns said during the team’s end-of-season meeting with reporters (including Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Jonathan Villar’s struggles required the Brew Crew to trade for Neil Walker in August, and now with Walker headed for free agency and Eric Sogard (another free agent) perhaps best suited for utility duty, a decision will need to be made about giving Villar another chance or perhaps looking for another addition. Starting pitching is another need given the uncertainty surrounding Jimmy Nelson’s return from a labrum procedure, though manager Craig Counsell said it was too early to consider whether Josh Hader could be moved into a rotation role.
Here’s more from both the NL and AL Central…
- The Tigers will interview Marlins third base coach Fredi Gonzalez and White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing this week about the managerial vacancy, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports. Angels bench coach Dino Ebel is also on Detroit’s list of candidates, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets. Several other internal (coaches Lloyd McClendon, Omar Vizquel, Dave Clark) and external (Phil Nevin and Charlie Montoyo) have already been linked to the Tigers’ search, which reportedly began with around 50 names in consideration.
- Andrew McCutchen is the key figure of this Pirates offseason, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, as the team faces a big decision about trading the long-time star outfielder. Dealing McCutchen would essentially mark the end of an era for the franchise, though it would free up $14.5MM in payroll for 2018 (Brink rightly figures McCutchen’s club option is sure to be exercised by the Pirates) that could then be used to fill other roster holes. McCutchen turns 31 next week and is coming off a solid 2017 season that revived his value following a very disappointing 2016 campaign.
- Corey Kluber was a promising but unheralded young arm in the Padres farm system when he was acquired by the Indians in July 2010, as Cleveland.com’s Bud Shaw revisits the trade that gave the Tribe its ace. Kluber was acquired as part of a three-team deal that saw the Cardinals send Ryan Ludwick to the Padres, while St. Louis picked up Jake Westbrook from Cleveland and Nick Greenwood from San Diego. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, then the team’s GM, said they received good scouting reports and “great analytical information” on Kluber that caught their interest, but “at the same time, no one sat there and said we were trading for a future Cy Young winner. We had no idea.”