Luke Voit has been a member of the Brewers organization for just a few weeks. The former home run leader signed a minor league deal a couple weeks ago, getting an opportunity to audition for a roster spot early in Spring Training.
The Brewers will have to make that call relatively early into exhibition play. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Voit would be able to opt out of the deal next Thursday if he’s not added to the big league roster. According to Sherman, Voit’s deal would come with a $2MM base salary if he makes the MLB club.
While that’s far from an exorbitant sum, it remains to be seen whether Milwaukee feels there’ll be sufficient at-bats for Voit to warrant a spot. Keston Hiura is on hand as an in-house option with a similar power-oriented skillset from the right side. Hiura has run exorbitant strikeout tallies over the past few years but he’s flashed impact power upside. The former ninth overall pick connected on 14 home runs with a quality .222 ISO (slugging minus batting average) in just 80 games last season.
Voit and Hiura are seemingly jockeying for reps as a right-handed complement to lefty-swinging first base/DH options Rowdy Tellez and Jesse Winker. Both Hiura and Voit have actually fared worse against left-handed pitching than righties over the course of their careers. Tellez and especially Winker have had more traditional splits, however, with both handling righties better over the years. While neither Voit nor Hiura has functioned as a traditional lefty masher, they each offer some righty pop to help balance the order.
Adding some power from that side of the dish was apparently a goal for Milwaukee. To that end, Sherman writes that the Brew Crew had checked in with free agent catcher Gary Sánchez earlier in the offseason. Milwaukee subsequently acquired their new backstop, William Contreras, from the Braves as part of the three-team Sean Murphy trade. That swap landed the Brewers five seasons of control over a player they hope to be the long-term answer behind the dish at the cost of center field prospect Esteury Ruiz, who went to Oakland.
Sánchez still has yet to put pen to paper despite reports of interest from the likes of the Angels and Giants in recent months. He’s one of the top unsigned hitters available. Milwaukee no longer has a need for MLB catching, as the duo of Contreras and Víctor Caratini will handle the load. Milwaukee brought in Payton Henry from the Marlins in a low-profile trade to serve as the #3 option. There’s no indication Sánchez remains on the radar as a result, though he could be of interest to any number of teams if he’s willing to take a minor league deal at this stage of the winter.
A bat-first catcher for most of his time with the Yankees, Sánchez flipped the script to an extent during his lone season in Minnesota last year. He hit 16 homers but with a fairly modest .205/.282/.377 overall showing through 471 trips to the plate. That was among the worst full-season offensive performances of his career but he received roughly average grades for his pitch framing and ball-blocking from Statcast.
While Sánchez’s destination is still to be determined, there are no such questions with starter Wade Miley. The Brewers brought him back on a one-year, $4.5MM guarantee shortly after the calendar flipped to 2023. It’ll be season number 13 for the 36-year-old southpaw, who acknowledged he thought at points this offseason his career might be over.
“I was so unsure at the end of the year for what was next,” Miley told Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I wanted to get my shoulder healthy. I did a little program right after the season was over and it didn’t feel good at all. I did it for four weeks and it was awful. That’s when I went into – I wouldn’t call it depressed mode, but I was like ’it’s not worth it.’ At that moment, I was like, ’I think we’re done.’ Me and my wife talked, and I said, ‘I think this might be it.’”
Miley is coming off a season in which shoulder issues kept him to only nine appearances with the Cubs. Fortunately, he says his arm feels good after an offseason of rest and he felt comfortable giving things another go. Miley figures to take a back-end rotation role in Milwaukee, offering some veteran depth behind Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta and Eric Lauer. That takes on added importance for the Brew Crew after spring injuries to Aaron Ashby and Jason Alexander have thinned the depth beyond Miley and #6 starter Adrian Houser. As for his long-term outlook, Miley told Nightengale “I guess as long as (teams) keep calling, I’ll keep playing.”