The Brewers have some more flexibility with righty Junior Guerra than had generally been realized, as MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets. Milwaukee GM David Stearns says that the hurler has one option season remaining.
It seems that Guerra was granted an additional option season at some point in the past, though the details aren’t perectly clear. Players presumptively may only be optioned in three seasons, but in certain circumstances will be granted a fourth year. (Of course, whether or not it’s more beneficial to the player or his current team is not always immediately evident.)
Fourth options are given where a player misses all of an option year to due injury or has all three options burned before he has finished his fifth season as a professional. The latter provision seems to apply to Guerra’s unusual background. He appeared in the minors in 2006 and 2008 before reappearing in affiliated ball in 2015, kicking off a series of three campaigns in which he spent time on optional assignment.
In any event, the news means that the Brewers won’t be forced into a tough decision on Guerra’s status, either at the end of camp or during the season. Instead, the club can make its determination on whether and how he’ll be utilized in the majors based upon merit — along with a healthy consideration for the contract situations of other options.
Guerra, 33, struggled to a 5.12 ERA last year after a remarkable breakout effort in 2016. As the Brewers plot their staff for the season to come, he may or may not end up being seen as the best choice to take a rotation spot to open the year. With Wade Miley and Yovani Gallardo among the hurlers battling for jobs in camp, it’s certainly possible that Milwaukee will best be able to preserve its depth by holding Guerra in the minors to open the year.
At this point, the team’s course is hardly clear; indeed, there’s ample speculation about the possibility of acquiring another hurler altogether. But Guerra’s option year adds to the slate of possibilities for the Brewers front office.