The Winter Meetings have come and gone. They were relatively quiet, both for the Brewers and around MLB. The Brewers did make a pretty savvy move in acquiring LHP Alex Claudio (check out Episode 70 of Milwaukee’s Tailgate Podcast for thorough analysis), but that was about it.
The Brewers have been linked to a number of players, many who play primarily second base. Reportedly, they have talked to Ian Kinsler, Daniel Murphy, D.J. LeMahieu, and Jed Lowrie. Kinsler has since signed with San Diego, but the rest remain unsigned.
Outside of maybe Lowrie, these players don’t make sense. They are all primarily second basemen, and Milwaukee doesn’t need a second baseman. They have one, his name is Keston Hiura, and he’ll likely be their starter before June. He’s a very good hitter.
Hiura is the consensus top prospect in the Brewers’ system and was just named MVP of the Arizona Fall League where he sported a .934 OPS over 23 games. He had an .821 OPS this year between A+ and AA. That doesn’t jump off the screen, but it is elite at the second base position–only three qualified second baseman were north of .821 in all of MLB last season.
While unlikely, it is possible the Brewers take a very conservative approach on Hiura and keep him down most of the year. Last month, Vincent Lara-Cinisomo of MiLB.com interviewed a Brewers executive who noted that while they love Hiura’s bat, they still want to see him handling throws from all the various spots on the field that the Brewers’ extreme shifting requires from their second baseman.
Even if they do keep him down longer than expected, it’s just about impossible to envision Hiura not breaking into the big leagues by the end of the season (barring injury). That is why players like Kinsler, Murphy, LeMahieu and others like Brian Dozier and Daniel Descalso make little sense; they only play second base, and they’re probably looking for multi-year deals. A multi-year deal to an only-second baseman makes no sense for the Brewers because of Hiura.
If the Brewers are insistent on signing someone to play second base in the short term, it needs to be someone who is versatile. Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera are good players who can fill in at third base or shortstop in a pinch. If you want to save a bit of money, Josh Harrison works.
None of these players are necessary for the Brewers, though. They can cover second base with Hernan Perez and/or Mauricio Dubon, a player some may have forgotten about. He’s a top ten organizational prospect who likely would have made his MLB debut last season had he not torn his ACL. Whether he becomes the second base placeholder or not, he’s likely to be up this year as a reserve middle infielder anyway.
Perez and Dubon should be fine at second base until Hiura is ready. If the Brewers want to sign a utility infielder for depth, that’s one thing, but signing one to primarily play second base isn’t a wise use of resources.