The Brewers have informed reporters, including Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that they have signed infielder Josh VanMeter to a minor league with an invitation to major league Spring Training.
VanMeter, 28 in March, has appeared in the past four major league seasons, spending time with the Reds, Diamondbacks and Pirates. He first got the call in 2019 and spent that season being frequently optioned between the majors and minors for the Reds. His work in the majors was a bit below average, as he hit .237/.327/.408 for a wRC+ of 88. But in 49 minor league games, he hit an incredible .348/.429/.669 for a wRC+ of 175.
Unfortunately, VanMeter hasn’t been able to come close to that level of production in the three years since, either in the majors or the minors. He spent most of 2022 in the majors with the Pirates, hitting just .187/.266/.292 for a wRC+ of 59. He was designated for assignment and outrighted in September, reaching free agency at season’s end.
Though he hasn’t hit much in the past few years, VanMeter at least brings defensive versatility. In his time in the big leagues, he’s played the outfield corners, every infield position except shortstop, as well as an inning behind the plate and three innings on the mound. It’s also possible his bat gets a boost from the upcoming rules against extreme defensive shifts, as he hits from the left side and was shifted in 79.7% of his appearances last year.
The Brewers have a bit of fluidity to their infield picture since Jace Peterson reached free agency and signed with the A’s while Kolten Wong was dealt to the Mariners. The club received Abraham Toro back in that Wong deal and also acquired Owen Miller from the Guardians. Luis Urías could take over third base while prospect Brice Turang is an option to join Willy Adames in the middle infield, but Turang has still yet to reach the majors. Mike Brosseau is also in the mix. The addition of VanMeter gives the club an experienced player to add some depth without using a roster spot for now. If he earns his way back onto the 40-man, he’s out of options and will have to stick around or else be designated for assignment. He has between three and four years of MLB service time and could be retained for future seasons via arbitration if he can work his way into Milwaukee’s plans.