Welcome to this week’s Friday Five! With Spring Training getting underway and roster battles shaping up, it’s time to take a look at some of the Brewers players who could be off the team come Opening Day. Now, I am not taking the cheap route and listing only non-roster invitees – these are 40-man roster players and players who aren’t on the edge of starting their major league careers (e.g. Josh Hader and Lewis Brinson). So, let’s get started.
- Tommy Milone
One of Milwaukee’s few offseason signings, I actually liked the move to bring in Milone, but there are several factors working against his staying on the roster. Most importantly, he will likely need to be in the bullpen. Milone’s history is as a starter, and he doesn’t necessarily have the traditional numbers you’d like out of a bullpen reliever. However, on the 40-man and non-roster invite lists, we see some very intriguing bullpen arms, like Damien Magnifico and Yhonathan Barrios. If the Brewers feel that Milone could start but won’t be much better than the other established veterans in the rotation, his contract is non-guaranteed, and they can cut him with little loss. I think Milone is a fine player coming off a bad year and hope he makes it, but he could be cut by Opening Day.
- Jesús Aguilar
The corner infielder/outfielder is just what the team likes when building a roster: versatile. Aguilar was one of the most recent waiver claims in the game Stearns has been playing all season by claiming players and then trying to get them through waivers to the minors. Aguilar doesn’t have a strong track record that suggests he’s going to break out of camp, and everything he can do, Hernan Pérez can more or less do, but with a track record. I can’t see Aguilar making it out of camp, and I don’t think he’s a Brewer come opening day. I see him as the victim of another waiver claim that brings in a player Stearns likes better as other teams are getting down to their starting rosters.
- Yadiel Rivera
Rivera would be an extremely hard cut to make. He’s versatile and a great security blanket should Villar come nowhere close to his performance last year. However, if there’s one thing the Brewers have an abundance of, it’s middle infielders. Again, if there’s a waiver claim Stearns wants to make and he needs to clear 40-man space, you could see Rivera being a victim. I think he’s too valuable and that isn’t likely, but the Brewers could see that Rivera’s current spot on the team is pretty thoroughly blocked by players like Arcia, Pérez and Villar, not to mention a plethora of other players coming up behind him. If Rivera isn’t on the team, I think it ends up being a trade, probably for cash, but he’s a guy running out of options on a team that’s quickly filling up with talent.
- Scooter Gennett
Want to talk a guy who’s running out of options and is surrounded by superior talent? Scooter is one of two who fit that description really well. He still has some value with his bat, at least as a left matchup, but his lack of position versatility makes it very hard to see where his spot is. He’s already reached his potential and doesn’t seem like he’s getting better, he can only play one position with a challenge to try the outfield coming in the spring, and the other players are simply outplaying him. It’d be a sin if Scooter for some reason got a starting nod over Villar, and, unless there’s injury, he won’t. Rivera has more position versatility and a decent upside, and Pérez has already impressed management with his offense and defensive versatility. The Brewers would be on the hook for a loss, but they can afford it right now, and it’s more important to get young players at bats than clog a roster spot with someone who isn’t a part of your future.
- Matt Garza
Garza isn’t going to the bullpen. We already learned that. Garza likely isn’t one of the five best starting pitchers – I’d put Nelson, Guerra, Peralta, Davies and Anderson above him. Hell, Hader, Milone, Jorge Lopez, Taylor Jungmann AND Brent Suter could be better than him at this point. Right now, the only thing working for Garza is his money, and one way or another, you’re on the hook for the contract. I can’t see him taking up space. The Brewers might try to trade him and eat close to his entire salary, but I’m not sure that’s even tempting enough for teams right now. It’s one thing to not let younger talent get innings for development. It’s a whole other thing to let bad talent stop them. You can’t even make the argument that he’s nice to have around for depth when you have at least seven pitchers who can give you quality big league innings. Garza has to go. I can’t see him making this roster without an ace-like spring performance or utter collapses from his rotation peers.