The Brewers have officially announced their signing of infielder/outfielder Brian Anderson, making that deal official. In a corresponding move, first baseman Jon Singleton has been designated for assignment, per Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Singleton, 31, has had one of the more unique baseball journeys. Drafted by the Phillies in 2009, his strong work in the minors got him onto top prospects lists, jumping onto Baseball America’s top 100 in 2011. At that summer’s deadline, he was one of four players traded to the Astros in the deal that sent Hunter Pence to Philadelphia. Singleton continued to impress after switching teams, launching home runs and walking at very high rates for the next few seasons.
In June of 2014, just as he was to be promoted to the majors, he and the Astros agreed to a five-year, $10MM extension that also came with three club options. The club hoped for Singleton to be a staple of their lineup for years to come and locked him in at an affordable rate before he could increase his earning power. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t come to fruition. Singleton hit just .171/.290/.331 in 2014 and 2015. That led to a wRC+ of 81 indicating he was 19% below league average. He was kept in the minors for the next few seasons and released in May of 2018. At that time, Singleton had just been given his third suspension for a failed test for a drug of abuse. He would later go on to speak publicly with Adam McCalvy of MLB.com about his battle with marijuana addiction.
After getting let go by the Astros, Singleton sat out a few seasons, not playing official baseball anywhere from 2018 to 2020. He joined Diablos Rojos del México of the Mexican League for 2021 and impressed enough to get a minor league deal with the Brewers for 2022. He spent all of last year with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds and produced well overall. He struck out at a 27.7% clip but drew walks at an incredible 20.1% rate and popped 24 home runs. That led to a batting line of .219/.375/.434 and a wRC+ of 118, indicating he was 18% better than league average.
That wasn’t enough for Singleton to get called up during the season, but the Brewers did re-sign him to another minor league deal in October. A few weeks later, they were evidently concerned someone might take him in the Rule 5 draft and added him to the roster prior to the deadline. However, since that time, the club has been quite active despite a lack of splashy free agent signings. In addition to signing Anderson, the Brewers also signed Wade Miley and Blake Perkins and traded for William Contreras, Jesse Winker, Bryse Wilson, Javy Guerra, Payton Henry, Abraham Toro, Owen Miller, Janson Junk, Joel Payamps and Elvis Peguero, in addition to grabbing Gus Varland in the Rule 5 and Tyson Miller off waivers. All of those additions seem to have nudged Singleton out of his roster spot.
The club will now have one week to trade Singleton or pass him through waivers. In the latter scenario, Singleton has a previous career outright and could reject such an assignment in favor of electing free agency. For any club that needs first base help, Singleton could make for an intriguing flier as he’s coming off a strong campaign in the minors and still has less than a year of service time. However, he’s out of options and would need to hang onto a roster spot or else be designated for assignment again.