- Brewers catcher Jacob Nottingham is not recovering from late-December thumb surgery as quickly as expected. Nottingham is only doing “small baseball activities” right now and will not be ready for the start of Cactus League play, according to manager Craig Counsell (via Todd Rosiak and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). A healthy Nottingham and free-agent pickup Luke Maile figured to jockey for the No. 3 catcher position behind Omar Narvaez and Manny Pina, so Nottingham’s injury could help Maile in his quest to land that job. Nottingham, who is out of minor league options, amassed 54 plate appearances last year and hit .188/.278/.458 with four home runs.
- There’s still no indication that the National League will be able to deploy a designated hitter in 2021, but Brewers skipper Craig Counsell is still rooting for a late agreement to change that, writes MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Though Counsell has previously been against the NL DH, the manager noted that for the Brewers roster, as currently constructed, it would be beneficial. That’s largely because of the presence of Daniel Vogelbach, who mashed in 67 plate appearances as a Brewer late in the 2020 season but was pushed off a potential regular role at first base when Milwaukee signed Kolten Wong, thus sliding Keston Hiura over to first base. As McCalvy notes, if there’s no late agreement on a designated hitter, it’s possible the Brewers could cut Vogelbach loose. He agreed to a $1.4MM to avoid arbitration over the winter, but the Brewers would only owe him 30 days’ salary ($226K) if he’s cut in the first half of Spring Training or 45 days ($339K) if he’s cut in the second half of camp. If Vogelbach makes the Opening Day roster, that entire $1.4MM salary would be locked in.
- The Brewers were among the teams that tried to sign reliever Trevor Rosenthal before he inked a one-year, $11MM guarantee with the Athletics, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets. The Braves were also known to be in the mix, and they made the right-hander a back-loaded offer for two years, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Trevor Rosenthal ultimately chose the A’s back-loaded proposal (they’ll pay him through 2023).
TODAY: The Brewers officially announced Anderson’s deal.
FEB. 16, 4:38pm: The two sides have a one-year, $2.5MM deal in place, pending a physical, per Jeff Passan of ESPN. Anderson could earn an additional $1MM in incentives.
Now 33 years old, the ever-promising Anderson overcame a spate of injuries earlier in his career to emerge as a solid back-end option over the past couple of seasons. Anderson tossed a career-high 176 innings of 3.89 ERA ball with the Athletics in 2019, and he parlayed that effort into a $5MM guarantee with the Brewers last offseason.
During his first season in Milwaukee, the soft-tossing Anderson turned in 47 innings in 10 starts and logged passable numbers for a No. 4/5 rotation option. He ended the year with a 4.21 ERA/4.40 SIERA and an exemplary 57.7 percent groundball rate. Although Anderson didn’t strike out many hitters (15.8 percent), he somewhat offset that by walking just 5.0 percent of the batters he faced. Anderson’s strikeout and walk numbers essentially lined up with the figures he has put up during a career that began in 2009 and has spanned 1,044 1/3 innings.
If he stays in Milwaukee, Anderson will vie for starts in a rotation set to include Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes at the top. Josh Lindblom, Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer will also compete for jobs, and the Brewers just added another candidate in veteran Jordan Zimmermann on a minor league contract.
An intriguing new team has emerged in the Jackie Bradley Jr. race, as FanSided’s Robert Murray (Twitter link) reports that the Brewers are “in the mix” for the outfielder’s services. Milwaukee made a push to sign Justin Turner before the third baseman re-signed with the Dodgers, indicating that the Brewers have some money to spend if they feel a substantial upgrade can be found.
While the Brewers technically have a regular center fielder in Lorenzo Cain and a full outfield altogether with Christian Yelich and Avisail Garcia in the corners, an argument can certainly be made for Bradley’s inclusion. Cain played five games before opting out of the 2020 season, and he also struggled at the plate while dealing with a number of injuries in 2019.
Those injury problems didn’t hamper Cain’s glovework, however, as Cain was his usual excellent self in center field. The idea of having both Cain and Bradley in the same outfield would be a dream from a defensive standpoint, and the Brewers could also deploy Bradley in center to give Cain some off-days, while occasionally sitting Bradley when a tough left-handed pitcher is on the mound. Garcia would likely see the biggest reduction in playing time, coming off a season that saw him hit only .238/.333/.326 over 207 plate appearances.
Bradley’s bat has been inconsistent over the years, though he hit .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs over 217 PA with the Red Sox in 2020. His hard-contact numbers weren’t impressive, marking a bit of a strange reversal from the 2017-19 seasons that saw Bradley made much more solid contact but it didn’t translate to above-average offensive production.
Several clubs have been linked to Bradley over the course of the offseason, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that “about a half dozen teams” still considering signing the 30-year-old (who turns 31 in April). Such teams as the Giants and Astros have shown interest in Bradley and still have obvious room in their outfields, though The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal noted today that signing Bradley would put Houston over the luxury tax threshold, which would hamper the team from a draft-compensation standpoint this winter for both its own free agents (i.e. Carlos Correa) and any free agents it might pursue.
Other possible Bradley suitors like the Red Sox, Mets, Cubs, and Phillies could be only on the periphery based on other additions made this offseason. With Bradley still on the market as Spring Training begins, however, it could open the door for more non-obvious teams like the Brewers to check in to see if a deal could possibly be had.
8:02pm: Shaw will make $1.5MM with another potential $1.5MM in incentives if he earns a roster spot, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com relays. There’s a March 15 opt-out date in the pact.
7:14pm: Shaw will get a non-guaranteed deal, per Bradford.
6:48pm: A Shaw signing “is imminent” for the Brewers, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com tweets.
6:19pm: Free-agent corner infielder Travis Shaw and the Brewers are “in serious talks” on a contract, Robert Murray of FanSided tweets. It’s “likely” they’ll reach a deal, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com reported earlier Tuesday that Shaw could come off the board soon.
There is plenty of familiarity between the Brewers and Shaw, who spent 2017-19 with the team after it acquired him from the Red Sox in December 2016. Shaw was an offensive standout as a Brewer in his first two years, in which he hit .258/.347/.497 with 63 home runs in 1,193 plate appearances, but his numbers have dropped off significantly since then. He batted a horrific .157/.281/.270 with seven homers over 270 PA in his final year with the team, and the Brewers non-tendered him after that.
Shaw joined the Blue Jays on a $4MM guarantee heading into last season, and though he did post better numbers, he still wasn’t a major threat. The 30-year-old slashed .239/.306/.411 with six HRs across 180 PA. If he goes back to Milwaukee, though, Shaw could compete for at-bats at both first and third. The Brewers are slated to start Keston Hiura and Luis Urias at those two positions, while Daniel Vogelbach and Daniel Robertson are on their 40-man roster as potential bench options.
Milwaukee is the third organization for Fisher, who began as the 37th overall pick of the Astros in 2014. Houston sent him to Toronto five years later in a 2019 trade that delivered right-handers Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini to the Astros.
Fisher didn’t have much major league success with either the Astros or Jays, as evidenced by his .194/.286/.376 line with 17 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 458 plate appearances. He does, however, own a much more imposing triple-slash of .289/.379/.520 with 50 homers in 1,053 PA at the Triple-A level. Because Fisher is out of options, though, he’ll have to earn a spot on the Brewers’ 40-man roster this spring or potentially go back to the waiver wire. Christian Yelich, Avisail Garcia, Lorenzo Cain, Daniel Robertson, Tyrone Taylor, Billy McKinney, Corey Ray and Tim Lopes represent the other outfield-capable players on the Brewers’ 40-man.
The Brewers have agreed to a minor league deal with right-hander Brad Boxberger, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel reports (via Twitter). Boxberger will receive an invitation to the team’s Major League Spring Training camp.
After signing a minors contract with the Marlins last winter, Boxberger posted a 3.00 ERA over 18 innings with Miami, plus 3 1/3 scoreless frames during the team’s playoff run. It was a nice bounce-back performance for Boxberger in terms of pure results after struggling in 2019 with the Royals, though there wasn’t much difference between the two seasons from an analytical perspective.
Boxberger’s 22.8K% and 10.1BB% were both below average and there weren’t a lot of positives within his Statcast numbers, with the exception of a fastball spin rate in the 90th percentile. For added pluses, Boxberger posted a career-best 51% grounder rate, and his fastball averaged 92.5mph for his highest velocity since 2015.
It was during that 2015 season that Boxberger achieved All-Star status for a 41-save season with the Rays, but he then battled some injuries and became something of a journeyman since Tampa traded him to the Diamondbacks in November 2017. Since Opening Day 2018, Boxberger has now been a member of six different organizations, counting Milwaukee. The right-hander will compete for a job in a Brewers bullpen that has plenty of talent but relatively little MLB experience, so Boxberger could add a veteran element to the mix.
Justin Turner is returning to the Dodgers, agreeing to terms last night on a two-year, $34MM guarantee with a 2023 option. The Brewers were known to be interested in Turner for much of the offseason and apparently made a legitimate run at the star third baseman. Milwaukee made a two-year offer similar to the one Turner ultimately accepted from Los Angeles, while also proposing a potential three-year deal at a lower annual rate, hears Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link). Having missed out on Turner, Milwaukee’s now left to weigh the possibility of another addition versus rolling with the in-house pairing of Luis Urías and Daniel Robertson at the hot corner.
- The Cubs are looking to add a left-handed hitting second baseman, reports Bruce Levine of 670 the Score (Twitter link). There aren’t a ton of players fitting the profile still available in free agency, unless the Cubs are interested in a reunion with Daniel Descalso or Jason Kipnis. Eric Sogard might be the cleanest fit, but he’s coming off a poor season with the Brewers. Travis Shaw remains on the open market as well; he’s primarily a corner infielder but has some experience at the keystone. Otherwise, Chicago might be left looking to the trade market to address the issue.
Justin Turner’s market had already reportedly narrowed to four teams, and the field could now be even thinner for the former All-Star. The Dodgers and Brewers have each made multi-year contract offers to Turner, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link), and while the third baseman could potentially have other longer-term offers on the table, Turner seems “less likely” to sign with other rumored suitors like the Braves, Mets, or Blue Jays.
If Turner’s final four is now down to a final two, the Dodgers are still in the lead, according to both Heyman and FanSided’s Robert Murray (via Twitter). There has been a widespread expectation for much of the winter that Turner would eventually re-sign with Los Angeles, though some wrinkles were added by Turner’s initial ask of a four-year contract, and the Dodgers already projected to spend far beyond the $215MM luxury tax threshold. As per Roster Resource, the Dodgers’ tax number for 2021 is over $240MM (thanks in large part to the Trevor Bauer signing), and spending beyond $250MM would trigger the maximum tax penalty — a 42.5% surtax on overages, and the Dodgers’ first 2021 draft pick would be dropped back in the draft order by 10 spots.
Of course, the Dodgers could have no issue taking the extra one-year tax hit in order to bolster their chances at another World Series title, or to retain a star player who has spent the last seven seasons in Dodger blue. Still, the lack of common ground to date between Turner and the Dodgers has opened the door for a team like Milwaukee, as Murray writes that the Brewers made a “competitive” offer. It seems unlikely that any team would be willing to give four guaranteed years to the 36-year-old Turner, but speculatively, the Brewers might gain an edge over L.A. by offering three years depending on the nature of the Dodgers’ offer.
As for the other teams linked to Turner, earlier reports suggested that the Mets weren’t getting far in contract talks. The chances of Turner going to Atlanta or Toronto seemed to dim after those teams made other high-priced signings — the Braves and Marcell Ozuna, and the Blue Jays with George Springer and Marcus Semien.