Milwaukee Brewers

Can the Brewers recover from a rough start to the offseason?

The Milwaukee Brewers have already lost several players this offseason. Will they be able to make the necessary moves to contend in 2020?

Has any MLB team had a worse offseason so far than the Milwaukee Brewers? Here in the first week of December, the list of players they’ve lost is already extensive:

That’s a lot of talent for one team to lose in about a month, especially for a team that won 89 games and made the postseason for the second straight year. To be fair, some of the moves were the team’s own decision, and they did get Luis Urias and Eric Lauer back in that trade with San Diego.

Still, the Brewers have a lot of work to do if they want to contend again in 2020. With the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals figuring to be contenders again and the Cincinnati Reds up-and-coming (including taking Moustakas away from Milwaukee), the NL Central already figures to be a tough division.

Even before all these moves, including trading away the two pitchers that gave the team the most starts in 2019, the Brewers needed starting pitching. With all the subtractions, they figure to have a lot of room in their budget to add, yet the two biggest names, Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, appear to be out of their reach. Could they persuade Hyun-Jin Ryu, or Madison Bumgarner to come to Wisconsin? Or will the team look at lesser names such as Michael Pineda, or the new free agent Kevin Gausman?

As for the everyday lineup, the team now has three holes to fill at first base, third base, and catcher. Mario Feliciano could eventually be an in-house answer at catcher, but for the other two spots they’ll almost certainly have to go outside the organization. None of the team’s top 13 prospects, in an already thin system, play those positions. And unfortunately, after Shaw’s miserable 2019, the team decided he was no longer an option.

At third base, of course the big names on the market are Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson. With money to spend, perhaps the Brewers will be surprise contenders in those sweepstakes. If not, Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera could be lower-cost options. First base will be trickier. They could still re-sign Thames, but if not, then Howie Kendrick, Mitch Moreland, and C.J. Cron are also out there.

One wild card in all this is closer Josh Hader, who has recently come up in trade rumors. The Brewers could sell high and trade Hader for a decent haul, though that would leave a big hole at the back end of the bullpen.

So, what does all this mean for the Brewers and their chances in the NL Central in 2020? If they don’t do something to address their holes, and soon, there’s a good chance they’ll be looking at a fourth-place finish. Even if they add, say, Pineda, Frazier, and Cron, they still would have a hard time measuring up to the other three division contenders. It’s hard to see the Brewers making noise in that division without at least one huge free-agent signing.

The Brewers have made a few moves to cut payroll this offseason so far. What will they do with that extra money? Will they spend it on free agents to try to win now? Or will they try to piece it together and hope for the best? The Brew Crew will be one of the most interesting teams to watch for the rest of this winter.

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