Let’s face it: the 2023 Brewers had some real weaknesses, notably in the offensive production department. First base, third base, center field, designated hitter, and second base were all offensive deserts for at least some portion of the season, and it showed. That said, there are some very plausible in-house options to improve those positions this season, giving the Crew one more year if they decide to keep Corbin Burnes and Willy Adames in Milwaukee for one more year to make that run.
Jesse Winker generated a lot of walks but little else for the Crew as the primary designated hitter, and he will depart shortly. One in-house replacement for him could be Mark Canha, who has a team option for 2024, costing Milwaukee $11 million. Another could be Christian Yelich – who is no slouch defensively in the outfield but may need to move due to the presence of Sal Frelick, Garrett Mitchell, Tyrone Taylor, Jackson Chourio, and Joey Wiemer. The team also used William Contreras at the position semi-regularly, which could be more frequent if Jeferson Quero forces his way to Milwaukee in 2024.
Rowdy Tellez started the season on pace for a career year, then a forearm injury he tried to play through derailed the season. While he could come back – a healthy Tellez in good form is a very dangerous threat, as seen in 2021, 2022, and early 2023 – the fact is, the Brewers could turn to one of the Canha/Yelich duo and get an uptick in offensive performance and defensive acumen at the position and land some return for Rowdy.
Brice Turang provided Gold Glove-level defense at second base. However, his offense left much to be desired in 2023, with an OPS+ of 62. It was slightly better than Jesse Winker’s OPS+ of 60, and Turang helped the Brewers win in ways that didn’t show up in the box score, posting 1.6 wins above replacement, but he also was a black hole in the lineup for most of the year. The Brewers have some options for more offense – notably top rookie Andruw Monasterio, along with Owen Miller and Abraham Toro. Tyler Black could also see some time at the position if the Crew wants to go bat-first, and Cam Devanney is an arguable dark horse for some playing time after a superb 2023. Of course, Turang could take his offense up a level, as he did after initially struggling when he received mid-season promotions during his minor-league career.
As with first base, the Brewers saw a hot start from Brian Anderson, who took over after Luis Urias was injured on Opening Day. However, Anderson cooled off after May and found himself on the bench as Monasterio took over at third. The Brewers later brought in former MVP Josh Donaldson for some extra power at the position, and he was solid, but he also cooled down a little near the end of the season. While Donaldson has a team option, 2023 was also the year that Black showed he could defend at the hot corner and demonstrated he had nothing left to prove offensively in the minors. Devanney, Miller, and Toro could also be contenders at third.
Joey Wiemer flashed some power, demonstrated excellent defense, and swiped some bags after being called up following Urias’s injury. He ultimately delivered a 76 OPS+, good for 0.9 Wins Above Replacement. Like Turang, many of his contributions to the Brewers' 92-win season didn’t make the box score. The improvement here could easily be the return of Garrett Mitchell, who’s posted an OPS+ of 120 at the MLB level in a small sample size, or when Jackson Chourio makes his MLB debut. Wiemer, of course, could also develop and improve as well, leaving the Brewers with a plethora of good options.
The Brewers have no shortage of potentially significant offensive upgrades at the positions that were somewhat problematic in 2023. Could they be enough to help the team make another run at the postseason should Burnes and Adames stay? That answer could very well be a yes for the Brewers.
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