Opening Day is about a week away, and the Brewers made a flurry of moves on Thursday as they continue to widdle down their roster. Taylor Green, Martin Maldonado and Zach Bradddock were optioned to Nashville, while non-roster invitee Cesar Izturis was told he will make the final roster.
With Izturis making the team and fellow NRIs Brooks Conrad and Travis Ishikawa also making a push to fill out the bench, the Brewers needed to clear some room on the 40-man roster. They tried to sneak Zelous Wheeler through waivers, but everyone’s favorite name was claimed by Baltimore. The Brewers will gain the free 40-man spot, but lost someone who could be a serviceable bat at a few different infield positions.
While the Brewers’ Opening Day roster is starting to take shape, as Adam McCalvy noted earlier today, there’s still plenty of factors that could muck things up in the next week. It’s still possible Shaun Marcum and Corey Hart won’t be ready for Opening Day, someone may make an unexpected push in the last week (Edwin Maysonet apparently has the attention of Ron Roenicke) and attractive options may present themselves on the trade market or waiver wire. It was around this time last year, after all, that the Brewers swung a trade with Washington for Nyjer Morgan.
If Hart and Marcum are going to start the year on the active roster, there will only be three spots left to be won in the final week, and two of those figure to go to pitchers. Since Braddock was optioned down on Thursday, it’s safe to assume that Manny Parra will take one of those spots as the lone left-hander in the bullpen. The other bullpen spot will likely go to Tim Dillard as the long man out of the pen, with the Brewers using one of Mike McClendon’s two remaining options.
So that leaves Conrad, Ishikawa and Maysonet to fight for the last spot on the roster. Do the Brewers choose to keep some defensive insurance for Mat Gamel at first with Ishikawa? Do they want the switch-hitting pop that Conrad could bring? Do they keep another guy who can play up the middle in Maysonet?
It’ll be a popular topic of discussion over the next week, but the truth is that the final decision likely won’t matter very much. The bench will constantly be reshuffled throughout the year, and the roster you see on April 6 will be much different than the one you’ll see on August 6. Last season, the likes of Erick Almonte, Jeremy Reed and Wil Nieves made the Opening Day roster. Reed was off the 25-man roster by April 10. Almonte was sent down by April 25. Nieves lasted until June 13, but only played in 20 games.
Whoever ends up being on the bench to start this season may be part of a somewhat uninspiring group, but if they don’t perform, they won’t be likely to stick around for very long anyway. The likes of Green and Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl may be starting the year in Nashville, but they’ll eventually make their way back to Milwaukee this season.