Just prior to the close of the business day Monday, the Milwaukee Brewers announced six players as no longer being a part of its 40-man roster by way of outright assignment to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
New general manager David Stearns has been discussing his ongoing evaluation of the organization’s talent pool. Now almost a month into his official tenure, the first wave of changes are underway in earnest.
Five of the players could have remained under team control for 2016. Four of those five appeared in the big leagues in Brewers uniforms this season along with the sixth player who won’t be back with the club in any capacity.
- RHP Johnny Hellweg
- LHP Cesar Jimenez
- C Juan Centeno
- 1B Matt Clark
- OF Logan Schafer
- RHP Kyle Lohse (declared free agency)
Lohse’s declaration should come as no surprise given how his tenure in Milwaukee ended this year. All five of the outrighted players now also have the right to declare minor league free agency, though they could sign minor league contracts for next year should they choose to do so.
Despite a new man in charge and disappointing results following Tommy John surgery and rehab, you would think the Brewers would prefer retaining Johnny Hellweg on a minor league contract. They have, after all, put quite a bit of time and money into him after he was acquired as the second piece in the Zack Greinke-to-Los Angeles deal. Hellweg was also the Brewers MiLB Pitcher of the Year once upon a time.
Jimenez’s outright is probably the only somewhat unexpected move as he performed acceptably for the majority of his time in Milwaukee. That said, he’s certainly a veteran player who doesn’t have a ton of business on a rebuilding roster at the end of the day.
Centeno was passed over for a September call-up after appearing in 10 games early in the year. While it’s not a bad thing to have a third catcher on the 40-man roster, that spot is much more valuable this off-seaosn for Rule 5 Draft protection than for a guy who is inconsequential while there are no games being played.
After being sold a bill of goods never fulfilled, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Matt Clark look for his next opportunity elsewhere. He’s flashed a solid set of tools and I believe he could help a team at the MLB level. That said, at 29 years of age next season, he’ll be outside of the range wherein the Brewers would best benefit from his skills before they deteriorate.
As for Logan Schafer, he’s always been a great guy and he still plays top flight defense (when he’s sharp) but given where he’s at in his career against where the Brewers are in their rebuild, this one just felt kind of inevitable. Schafer is a solid 5th outfielder, in my opinion, but outfield just so happens to be one of the deepest positions in the organization right now both in terms of players currently on the 40-man roster and those hopefully on their way through the minor (Brett Phillips, Tyrone Taylor, Trent Clark).
The Brewers have plenty more decisions to make as the weeks and months pass following the completion of the World Series. For now, Stearns has decided he needs the room on his 40-man roster. After all, two of the spots would appear to be spoken for already as RHPs Jimmy Nelson and Michael Blazek will likely be reinstated from the 60-day Disabled List soon enough and will, as a result, fill two of the current openings.
Nelson and Blazek were reinstated from the 60-day DL on Monday as assumed. That officially puts the 40-man roster at 36 players with four open spots.
***END OF UPDATE***
Ron Burgundy may never have heard Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin,’” but David Stearns obviously has, and he’s willing to make the moves he deems necessary to regain Milwaukee’s footing in the ultra-competitive National League Central division.
Up next for Stearns? It could be a decision on whether to pick up the $8 million club option on first baseman Adam Lind. That decision must come by the close of business Wednesday.
Today the Brewers announced the additions of three players to the 40-man roster, a move that comes ahead of today’s deadline to protect those players from the Rule 5 Draft. The Rule 5 Draft takes places each December on the last day of baseball’s annual Winter Meetings.
Last year the Brewers protected four players: infielders Hunter Morris and Jason Rogers, and pitchers Kevin Shackelford (since removed) and Brooks Hall.
Morris and Hall were hurt for a stretch of time in 2014, though Hall pitched well making up time in the Arizona Fall League following surgery. Jason Rogers was among Milwaukee’s September call-ups in 2014.
The Brewers had nearly a full 40-man roster of players to consider for protection (38), including 22 who were eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time.
Here are the three prospects who were protected with a little bit more information about each of them.
Taylor Jungmann is a big (6’6″) right-handed pitcher who was the team’s top overall draft pick (12th overall) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Texas. He split time this season between Double-A Huntsville and, after an earned promotion, Triple-A Nashville. He posted a combined 12-10 record in 27 starts and one appearance out of the bullpen right after his promotion to Triple-A. Jungmann, who turns 25 next month, posted a composite 3.57 ERA in 153.2 innings. He struck out 147 hitters overall, 101 of which came in his 101.2 innings at Nashville.
Mike Strong, who turned 26 three days ago, earned protection after a long and successful 2014. The southpaw pitcher played for three different teams this year, making all but one regular season appearance with High-A Brevard County before a one-game season-ender with Huntsville (where he pitched 4.0 scoreless in relief) and then participating in the Arizona Fall League as a member of the Glendale Desert Dogs. In the Florida State League, Strong was 2-2 with a 2.50 ERA in 75.2 innings pitched across 30 games (six starts). He struck out 78 batters as a Manatee, saved four games, and posted a 1.044 WHIP. In Arizona, his 1.98 ERA in 11 games, two saves, and 14 punchies in 13.2 innings were a cherry on top of his case to make the 40-man roster.
Yadiel Rivera is the third player protected this year and is considered to be nearly ready defensively for the Major Leagues. Before 2014, however, Rivera’s bat was lagging significantly behind. Still just 22 years old, Rivera slashed .258/.309/.374 combined in 2014, with a line of .262/.304/.410 at Double-A following his late-June promotion from High-A. He still needs development at the plate, and Orlando Arcia will be nipping at his heels at shortstop in the system, but with his defensive profile and step forward as a hitter, Rivera deserved protection.
With these three additions, the Brewers 40-man roster currently stands at 39 players.
Of note is that the Brewers are still considering the addition of a fourth player to the 40-man roster in advance of today’s 11pm CT deadline. That report came via a tweet from beat writer Tom Haudricourt who called GM Doug Melvin for comments on Jungmann, Strong, and Rivera.
David Goforth was the surprise to me this morning as having been left off of the 40-man roster, but to hear that the Brewers are still considering him is encouraging.