- The Brewers announced today that right-hander Rob Scahill has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A. The 29-year-old had previously been designated for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for infielder Ehire Adrianza, who was claimed off waivers before promptly being designated for assignment himself (in favor of first baseman and fellow waiver claim Jesus Aguilar). Scahill pitched well for the Brewers late in the 2016 season, tossing 18 1/3 innings with a 2.45 ERA and a 14-to-3 K/BB ratio. Scahill’s ground-ball rate has soared in each of the past two seasons, sitting around 62 percent in that time. He’s yet to find consistent success in the Majors, though he does possess a very solid 3.03 ERA in his past 65 1/3 innings in the big leagues.
The Twins have claimed infielder Ehire Adrianza off waivers from the Brewers, as per a team press release. To make room on the 40-man roster, Minnesota designated right-hander Pat Light for assignment.
Adrianza has now been designated for assignment and claimed on waivers twice this week, as Milwaukee claimed him from the Giants on January 31. The Giants DFA’ed the 27-year-old to make room for Nick Hundley, while the Brewers quickly designated Adrianza themselves after claiming Jesus Aguilar off waivers from Cleveland (though Brewers GM David Stearns said that his team was hopeful of keeping Adrianza if he cleared waivers).
Adrianza has a .220/.292/.313 slash line over 331 career plate appearances in the big leagues, all with San Francisco from 2013-16. While the switch-hitter has never delivered much at the plate even at the minor league level, Adrianza has displayed defensive versatility as a shortstop and second baseman, plus a handful of games at third. He’ll join a fellow switch-hitter in Eduardo Escobar as the Twins’ primary reserve infielders, and while both could end up competing for a lone job, the Twins could have particular need for infield bench depth. Miguel Sano’s ability to handle third base is still up in the air and Jorge Polanco is still largely unproven as a major leaguer. Polanco will obviously get a lot of time to prove himself, though Sano could ultimately be moved to DH if he can’t manage to be at least passable at the hot corner.
Light, 25, made his MLB debut in 2016 and had a rough introduction to the Show. The righty posted an 11.34 ERA over 16 2/3 innings with the Twins and Red Sox, allowing four homers in his brief amount of mound time and issuing as many walks (16) as strikeouts. The hard-throwing Light came to Minnesota from Boston at the trade deadline in exchange for Fernando Abad. The 37th overall pick of the 2012 draft, Light posted a 4.35 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 2.16 K/BB rate over 297 2/3 IP in the minors, though his results improved after being moved to full-time bullpen work in 2015.
- Right-hander Chase Anderson and his representatives don’t expect to avoid arbitration with the Brewers, who are employing a file-and-trial approach, a source told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. The two sides are set to argue their cases sometime before Feb. 14, which would be the Brewers’ first arbitration hearing since 2012. Anderson, who’s arbitration eligible for the first time, is seeking $2.85MM as his 2017 salary, while the Brewers have offered $2.45MM (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $3.1MM award entering the offseason). The 29-year-old is coming off a season in which he amassed 151 2/3 innings, totaled nine wins and recorded a 4.39 ERA – the three statistics arbitrators examine when dealing with starting pitchers.
In Aguilar, Milwaukee has acquired a 26-year-old power bat who has a track record of production in the upper minors. He has spent quite a bit of time at Triple-A, compiling a .271/.346/.472 slash across 1,647 plate appearances. That success hasn’t carried over to the majors, though Aguilar has received only 64 opportunities to bat at the game’s highest level. He’s out of options, though, after bouncing up and down over the past three seasons.
As for Adrianza, who was just claimed from the Giants and is also out of options, Brewers GM David Stearns notes that the organization hopes to keep him as a non-roster player if he clears waivers, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets. The 27-year-old, a switch-hitting utility infielder, has slashed .220/.292/.313 in his 331 MLB plate appearances across the past four years. Adrianza previously inked a deal with San Francisco that would pay him $600K in the majors or $300K in the minors for the coming season.
[RELATED: Updated Brewers Depth Chart]
Adrianza, a 27-year-old switch hitter, could compete for a bench spot in camp with players such as Hernan Perez and Scooter Gennett, along with minor-league signees Eric Sogard and Ivan De Jesus Jr. He has spent time in the bigs over each of the past four seasons, posting a cumulative .220/.292/.313 batting line over 331 plate appearances. He already agreed to a split arb deal with the Giants that would pay him $600K in the majors and $300K in the minors.
As for Scahill, who’ll soon turn 30, the move could bring an end to his brief tenure with the organization. He allowed just five earned runs over 18 1/3 innings in Milwaukee last year after coming over from the Pirates in a mid-season waiver claim. Scahill owns a useful 3.68 ERA in 122 1/3 total MLB frames over the past five years.
Though he carries just 6.3 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 for his career, Scahill has generated grounders at better than a sixty percent clip in each of the past two seasons and averages over 93 mph with his average fastball. He’ll surely end up at least competing for a big league job in camp somewhere, whether or not it’s with the Brewers.
Outfielder Ryan Braun has been the subject of trade rumors going back to last summer, in which he was connected to the Dodgers in a deal that might have included Yasiel Puig. Nonetheless, it’s now late January, and he remains with the Brewers. That doesn’t surprise owner Mark Attanasio, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. “No, I’m not surprised,” Attanasio says. “I think there was a lot of momentum [toward a trade] last summer, given the challenges the Dodgers had in hitting left-handed pitching and how strong a season he was having. … But after it didn’t happen, I actually thought if it wasn’t going to happen then, it wasn’t going to happen. We’re delighted he’s back.” Though Braun remains under contract through 2020 with a mutual option for 2021, it wouldn’t be surprising, in my view, if he reemerged as a trade candidate in the future as the Brewers continue their rebuild. McCalvy notes that the Brewers plan to be generous with time for young players this season. “It is essential that we do this rebuild correctly, and I think if we get too hung up on wins and losses, we’re maybe not doing it [right],” Attanasio says. Here’s more from the NL.
- Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett will try his hand at multiple positions, including the outfield, in Spring Training, according to manager Craig Counsell (Twitter link via McCalvy). Excluding pinch-hit appearances and one inning in the outfield, Gennett has come close to playing his entire career at second (396 games there, one as a designated hitter). However, Jonathan Villar is moving from the left side of the infield to the keystone, thereby relegating Gennett to a bench/utility role. He’ll also have a hard time garnering playing time in the outfield, though, as Braun, Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton are firmly entrenched as starters.
JAN. 23: It is indeed a minor league agreement for Chamberlain, and the contract is now complete, tweets Heyman. The 31-year-old right-hander has a $1.375MM base upon making the big league club and can earn additional incentives beyond that point, Heyman further reports.
JAN. 20: The Brewers have agreed to a deal with veteran righty Joba Chamberlain, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Though it’s not mentioned in the report, it seems likely that the contract is of the minor-league variety.
Chamberlain, 31, put up a 2.25 ERA in twenty frames for the Indians last year. Though he allowed only a dozen hits, however, he surely benefited from a .216 BABIP and posted a mediocre 18:11 K/BB ratio. After permitting three free passes in an outing in early July, he was designated and later released by Cleveland (after he refused an outright assignment).
While there were obviously some limitations in Chamberlain’s game, it was surprising that he did not end up joining another organization in 2016. He had managed to post a sturdy 11.6% swinging-strike rate, was not allowing much hard contact, and was averaging better than 93 mph with his fastball when he was cut loose.
Milwaukee now becomes the latest team to have a look at the one-time top prospect, who has spent time with four organizations over the last three years since leaving the Yankees. Chamberlain figures to join the battle in camp for a role in a Brewers’ pen that figures to have a few spots up for grabs this spring.
- The Brewers had some interest in Sergio Romo prior to their signing of Neftali Feliz, Andrew Baggarly of the Bay Area News Group. Milwaukee was known to be looking for relief pitching and landed both Feliz on a big league deal and Joba Chamberlain on a minors contract this week. The Brewers also made an offer to Romo’s former Giants teammate Santiago Casilla before they signed Feliz. Romo was known to have received interest from at least two non-Giants teams this offseason, though there hasn’t been much buzz overall about the veteran right-hander’s market.
- Before signing with the Athletics, Santiago Casilla told reporters (including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle) that he also received an offer from the Brewers. Earlier this week, Milwaukee went in another direction for its closing vacancy by signing Neftali Feliz to a one-year contract.
The Brewers bolstered their bullpen on Thursday, announcing the signing of right-hander Neftali Feliz to a one-year contract. Feliz, a client of BTI sports, is reportedly expected to close for Milwaukee and will be guaranteed $5.35MM. His contract reportedly contains incentives as well, which can boost the value of the deal to $6.85MM.
The 28-year-old Feliz was the 2010 American League Rookie of the Year with the Rangers and served as the closer in Texas for two seasons before shifting back to the rotation and ultimately requiring Tommy John surgery in 2013. He returned to Texas and logged a 1.99 ERA in 2014 but with considerably diminished peripherals. The Rangers cut him loose midway through the 2015 campaign after 19 2/3 innings of a 4.58 ERA, and he fared worse down the stretch with the Tigers that season (7.62 ERA in 28 1/3 innings).
Like so many others, though, Feliz found renewed success with the Pirates, for whom he tossed 53 1/3 innings of 3.52 ERA ball last season. His fastball velocity, which had been diminished since coming back from Tommy John, spiked back up to an average of 96.1 mph, and his strikeout and swinging-strike rates jumped accordingly. Feliz averaged 10.2 K/9 last season and posted a career-best 14.2 swinging-strike rate that ranked 24th among 135 qualified relievers. He also averaged a manageable 3.5 walks per nine innings pitched and posted a 37.9 percent ground-ball rate.
Had Feliz finished the season in better health, a multi-year deal may very well have been in the cards. However, his season unofficially came to an end on Sept. 3 with an arm injury that was never disclosed in full and remains nebulous to this day. That likely gave plenty of teams pause over the course of the winter, though the Brewers are comfortable enough with his medicals to bring him on board. The fact that Milwaukee has a seemingly wide-open ninth-inning picture following the trade of Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox likely enhanced the appeal of the Brewers for Feliz, who can re-enter the open market next season and conceivably cash in on a substantial contract if he remains healthy in 2017.
If Feliz does ultimately end up closing games in Milwaukee, he’ll push right-handers Corey Knebel and Carlos Torres down the pecking order. Rob Scahill, Michael Blazek, Jhan Marinez, Jacob Barnes and Taylor Jungmann will be among the relievers competing for middle relief work in manager Craig Counsell’s bullpen, and left-hander Tommy Milone looks like a solid bet to break camp as the team’s long man (if he’s not able to claim a rotation spot in Spring Training).
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported the agreement and the terms (Twitter links). FanRag’s Jon Heyman said the two sides were nearing a deal over the weekend after BrewerFan.net’s Jim Goulart linked to the two sides.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.