A little bit of team news this week as we get into the off-season trade period. The team had a few tender/non-tender decisions to make at the deadline last Friday.
Tender is the Day
The Brewers tendered contract extensions to the following players:
I’ve been saying for years that Hernan Perez is the under-the-radar MVP of the Brewers in the Craig Counsell era, playing at every position except catcher over the course of the 2018 season (while being a plus defender at all of them), and consistent hitter to boot. He’s not gonna set the offense on fire, but he was pretty good at delivering when it mattered, and his flexibility really plays into Craig Counsell’s non-traditional use of players and shifting.
We didn’t really see very much of Saladino, he was brought in to play short stop while Orlando Arcia was in the minors working on his swing, which was a relatively short stint, and then pinch hit a few times after Arcia came back up. I don’t really have a strong opinion on him either way, but he’s an affordable option for the Brewers to keep on hand as a backup infielder.
For all the Brewers success in 2018, it’s easy to forget that most of their opening-day starting rotation was out for much of the late part of the season with injuries. Jimmy Nelson, Brent Suter and Zach Davies among them. I’ve always liked Davies, he works quickly and his diminuative stature and middling velocity lulling the opposing offense to sleep while he uses pinpoint command to strike them out looking. I’m glad he’ll be back.
Guerra had to reinvent himself somewhat after struggling quite a bit, but seems to have emerged as a premiere long-relief man. He pitched a herculean 3 and 2/3rds innings of scoreless relief in game 3 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, before they finally scored a walk-off with an RBI single. I’m glad he’ll be back.
After struggling mightily midway through the season, Knebel went down to the minors and then came back up and pitched the best baseball of his life. From the time he came back up he was statistically the best reliever in the league. Welcome back, Corey.
I’m really excited that Jimmy Nelson will be back after missing a year due to a freak shoulder injury (and subsequent surgury) he sustained while running the bases. He was emerging as an ace, and I hope he can pick up right where he left off before the injury.
The loss of Martin Maldonado stung a bit because he was such an unbelievable defender and so good at throwing out base runners, but Manny Pina stepped right into that role and has been a solid presence. His offense is perhaps not anything to write home about, but he’s solid enough when you take his defense and game-calling into account.
I picked Santana as my “new favorite Brewer” after Carlos Gomez, my previous favorite, was traded. I really enjoy his lackadaisical charm and he seems to always be having a ton of fun playing the game. Plus, the dude can hit. He was excellent in a pinch hitting role late in the year last year. The only problem is that with Yelich, Cain and Braun, the outfield is pretty much nailed down, so Santana is relegated to filling in when Braun needs an off day or if there’s injuries, so he might not get much playing time.
Shaw has been one of the most consistent offensive producers since he joined the team in 2017, and the heir apparent to Ryan Braun when it comes to batting order. He’s not too shabby on defense either, he rarely makes errors and he even handled shifting over to 2nd base midway through the season last year quite handily. Personally, I’d kind of like to see the Brewers keep him at second and use Eric Thames at third, so Thames can get more regular at bats instead of only playing on Aguilar’s off-days.
(Non) Tender is the Night
The team elected to non-tender the following players from the 2018 roster:
Schoop was kind of a bust, brought in to try to get some offense from the 2nd base position which the Brewers had been platooning and kind of flailing around with all season, and he was the most expensive in a line of options that never really produced a meaningful amount of offense at the position (Jonathan Villar, Brad Miller, Nate Orf and Tyler Saladino were the others), until they ultimately gave up on 2nd basemen and brought in Moustakas and moved Travis Shaw over to 2nd, which wound up being pretty successful.
Jennings basically filled the Manny Parra/Oliver Drake role in the latter half of the 2018 season, being the reliever the Brewers put in when they had a safe lead, who would then inevitably give up enough runs to make it a close game again. He received less inexplicable praise from the Brewers’ broadcasters as either Parra or Drake, but I still won’t be especially sad to see him go.
I’m kind of okay with losing Cedeno as he didn’t pitch very much and when he did he wasn’t /bad/, per se, but not anything to write home about, either.