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  • What Impact Will Brian Anderson’s Signing Have on the Brewers Roster?


    Nate Palmer

    Brian Anderson provides the Brewers with a player with upside that also further crowds the roster. Does that mean another move could be coming?

    Image courtesy of © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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    The Milwaukee Brewers have signed rebound candidate Brian Anderson to a $3.5 million deal with $2 million in incentives. With any signing, there is a ripple effect on the roster, but this signing may have a notable effect on two players: Keston Hiura and Tyrone Taylor

    Hiura’s nonexistent fit on the 2023 Brewers roster has been well-documented. A trade of the one-time promising prospect feels like a foregone conclusion at this point. However, we are midway through January, and Hiura is still a Brewer. 

    Anderson is now the third infielder added to the Brewers roster this offseason. Those three join a group that includes Luis Urias, Brice Turang, Mike Brosseau, Abraham Toro, Owen Miller, Rowdy Tellez, and Anderson. The Brewers have yet to show confidence in playing Hiura regularly anywhere in his career. Considering the number of players on the roster that duplicate or best what he brings to the playing field, it still feels like a matter of time before he is gone. 

    Taylor is a slightly different case. He still has value on the Brewers, even if functionally, it is only to be a placeholder for one of the young guys waiting in the wings. Taylor’s movement could come more from a team's pursuit that needs someone of his skillset as right-handed outfielders continue to get snatched up off the free-agent market. 

    Anderson’s presence provides one more veteran option for the Brewers that could play a corner spot in the outfield. While Anderson is best known as a third baseman, he has also played over 1,500 innings as an outfielder. Each season he has posted a positive DRS, finishing with a +2 DRS in 2022. However, Outs Above Average isn’t nearly as fond of Anderson, with a -3 OAA. Anderson could provide at least passable defense in the corners for the Brewers with a cannon arm to compensate for some of his shortcomings. 

    The New York Mets just signed Tommy Pham for $6 million after hitting .236/.312/.374 with an 89 wRC+. Teams looking for a right-handed outfielder could find Taylor after hitting .233/.286/.442 with a 102 wRC+ to be appealing. The one drawback for Taylor is like his teammates Anderson and Hiura, Taylor is also a right-hander that hit right-handed pitching better in 2022, though that was counter to his career numbers. Over his career, Taylor carries a .253 average against lefties and a .235 average against righties, though his overall OPS carries nearly identical platoon splits (.755 OPS vs RHP, .761 OPS vs LHP).

    Another positive for Taylor is that he can provide center field defense and played 669 innings at the position in 2022. Those innings were good for +6 DRS and +4 OAA. Of course, all those positive traits may be why the Brewers hang on to Taylor, at least until the team is more confident Sal Frelick is ready for a call-up. The addition of Anderson does at least provide a path to a trade without automatically turning things over to one of the prospects on Opening Day. 

    How do you see Anderson impacting the roster? Is a trade coming, or do all these pieces somehow fit together?

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    It seems almost impossible to believe, but Cots says Taylor is in his final pre-arby year. I would've thought he was well into arby.

    Although he didn't perform well when given the opportunity to start last season, he has proven himself to be a valuable 4th OF. I think his experience will be important this year, and the Brewers would need to get a lot of excess value for them to trade him. With the plethora of young OF in the system, he'll eventually get traded, but I think that's a year or two from now. He'll still play a big role for the Brewers in '23.

    Hiura on the other hand doesn't have a place on the team. I really thought he should get more playing time last year to see what he could do. That they didn't give him a bigger role last year seems to show that they don't have a lot of faith in him, and therefore he should be traded away. Honestly, I was shocked they offered him arby, guaranteeing that they'd owe him a couple million. Regardless of whether we had acquired Anderson, I thought Hiura had to go.

    I think the acquisition of Anderson mostly affects the rookies. Prior to his acquisition, it really looked like we could be starting three rookies on opening day (Mitchell, Frelick and Turang). Now I think that one of those three will start the year in AAA. My choice would be Turang. He may deserve to be promoted, but with the economics of baseball, it isn't always that simple. He'll play for the Brewers in '23, but I think he'll be in Nashville long enough to "buy" another year of service time.

    Meanwhile, we can hope that Frelick and Mitchell play well enough to be in the top three for Rookie of the Year. That will obviously help the team win games, plus it could get them an extra draft pick or two.

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    Nate Palmer
  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    45 minutes ago, JohnBriggs12 said:

    Assuming Anderson is healthy I think Brosseau and Toro likely will either be traded or released and certainly Hiura's fate is sealed.  

    The nice thing with both Brosseau and Toro is they each have option years remaining and can be sent to AAA. Currently, Roster Resource has Toro at AAA on the depth chart. 

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    Brosseau hits lefties and we need guys who can hit lefties. Barring further moves, I think his spot on the roster should be safe.

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    It really feels like there are two spots for Hiura, Frelick, Toro, Turang and Miller. Honestly, I think, assuming everyone is healthy, Frelick gets a spot and the other is between Hiura and Toro.

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    damuelle
  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    46 minutes ago, CheeseheadInQC said:

    It really feels like there are two spots for Hiura, Frelick, Toro, Turang and Miller. Honestly, I think, assuming everyone is healthy, Frelick gets a spot and the other is between Hiura and Toro.

    “Outfielder Sal Frelick, the Journal Sentinel's second-ranked prospect in the organization, said he expects to begin the season at Class AAA Nashville.

    ‘I would like to say start off in Triple-A and if I play well I'd like to get a call (to the majors) at some point,’ Frelick said.”

    https://www.jsonline.com/story/sports/mlb/brewers/2023/01/19/willy-adames-freddy-peralta-both-hoping-to-take-part-in-upcoming-wbc/69812397007/

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    26 minutes ago, damuelle said:

    “Outfielder Sal Frelick, the Journal Sentinel's second-ranked prospect in the organization, said he expects to begin the season at Class AAA Nashville.

    ‘I would like to say start off in Triple-A and if I play well I'd like to get a call (to the majors) at some point,’ Frelick said.”

    https://www.jsonline.com/story/sports/mlb/brewers/2023/01/19/willy-adames-freddy-peralta-both-hoping-to-take-part-in-upcoming-wbc/69812397007/

    I saw that quote and wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the direction they went in. However, I do think the conversation shifts if Frelick lights it up in spring training, which he is quite capable of doing.

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    damuelle
  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
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    7 minutes ago, Brewcrew82 said:

    I saw that quote and wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the direction they went in. However, I do think the conversation shifts if Frelick lights it up in spring training, which he is quite capable of doing.

    I’d love to see the young talent flourish and excite the fans, but I’m refusing to get my hopes up for early call-ups. The Winker pick-up signaled to me that they’ll wait on Frelick. And now the Anderson signing tells me we’ll also wait on Turang.

    I’m ready for CC to play Anderson a LOT early in the year (3B against righties, RF against lefties), with a bench of Brosseau, Hiura, Toro and Caratini.

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    On 1/20/2023 at 6:41 PM, damuelle said:

    I’d love to see the young talent flourish and excite the fans, but I’m refusing to get my hopes up for early call-ups. The Winker pick-up signaled to me that they’ll wait on Frelick. And now the Anderson signing tells me we’ll also wait on Turang.

    I’m ready for CC to play Anderson a LOT early in the year (3B against righties, RF against lefties), with a bench of Brosseau, Hiura, Toro and Caratini.

    Why would the acquisition of Winker mean they'll wait on Frelick when Winker is the DH?

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    damuelle
  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
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    19 minutes ago, Redd Vencher said:

    Why would the acquisition of Winker mean they'll wait on Frelick when Winker is the DH?

    Winker played 219 games in left field over the past two seasons, so that's where he'll most likely play if/when he sees the field (e.g. when Yelich needs rest or is injured).

    I see Frelick (648 innings as CF, 221.1 as LF, 28 as RF in 2022) as more of a left fielder than a center fielder in the majors, given my understanding that his CF defense is inferior to Mitchell and Taylor. But who knows, maybe he'll prove me wrong and win the center field job by 2024.

    Also, Winker's a left-handed hitter, so him replacing the RHH Renfroe automatically reduces the need for a new, young left-handed hitter, especially in the outfield (like Frelick).

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    5 hours ago, damuelle said:

    Winker played 219 games in left field over the past two seasons, so that's where he'll most likely play if/when he sees the field (e.g. when Yelich needs rest or is injured).

    I see Frelick (648 innings as CF, 221.1 as LF, 28 as RF in 2022) as more of a left fielder than a center fielder in the majors, given my understanding that his CF defense is inferior to Mitchell and Taylor. But who knows, maybe he'll prove me wrong and win the center field job by 2024.

    Also, Winker's a left-handed hitter, so him replacing the RHH Renfroe automatically reduces the need for a new, young left-handed hitter, especially in the outfield (like Frelick).

    Frelick's scouting report has his speed at 70 and arm at 50, plenty good enough for CF or RF.  Winker is a butcher in the OF. Having him as a 4th OF is playing with fire, especially if Mitchell (I assume you have him as the CF) or Taylor (RF) are dinged up. Anderson plays 3B most of the time with Brosseau playing 1B against lefties. I hope Frelick, Mitchell, Taylor, Yelich are the opening day OFs.  Brosseau, Toro, Caratini as the bench along with one of the OFs. Winker the DH. 

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    18 hours ago, Redd Vencher said:

    Why would the acquisition of Winker mean they'll wait on Frelick when Winker is the DH?

    As much as many here, myself included, have said that Winker is our DH, I do not believe that the team has ever said that. If Frelick starts the year in AAA, I would bet that Winker will spend some time in the OF, probably flipping spots with Yelich when he needs rest.

    It looked to me like they would be starting three rookies on opening day, but it's looking more-and-more like they will only be starting one. It may be a plan to call them up as soon as they'll retain an extra year's service time, which has been done countless times with prospects over the years. I'll believe that, because the other option (they don't trust rookies) wouldn't jibe with them being a small market in today's baseball economic environment. Keeping Mitchell down so he could retain his rookie status while fielding Taylor and Davis at CF last year was one of the reasons we missed the playoffs, but I guess Taylor will suddenly be a viable starter now. Hope it works for them.

    I still expect a pitcher to be dealt, and I don't think they'll use Hiura correctly, so I'd like to see him dealt. That said, I now see the opening day position player roster as:

    C: Contreras
    1B: Tellez
    2B: Urias
    SS: Adames
    3B: Anderson (backup corner OF)
    LF: Yelich
    CF: Mitchell
    RF: Taylor (backup CF)
    DH: Winker (backup corner OF)

    Bench: Caratini (backup catcher), Hiura (waste of spot, but I'll say backup 1B/2B/LF/DH), Brosseau (utility IF, starter vs LHP), Toro or Miller (utility IF).

    Brosseau will probably start at 3B vs lefties, with Anderson going to RF and Taylor to CF. Winker will play LF when Yelich DH's. They won't have an OF on the bench, so Anderson and Winker will have to move there when one of the starters needs a day off (or when Taylor proves that he shouldn't be a starter)

    Winker should never play against LHP. Ever. They will probably put Hiura in as DH against LHP, and he's probably the only guy on the roster who hits lefties as bad or worse than Winker. With what they're probably rostering, the best bet will probably be to DH Brosseau with Toro at 3B and Anderson in the OF, or just let Mitchell hit against LHP, which I don't think Counsell will do.

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    1 hour ago, monty57 said:

    Winker should never play against LHP. Ever. They will probably put Hiura in as DH against LHP, and he's probably the only guy on the roster who hits lefties as bad or worse than Winker. With what they're probably rostering, the best bet will probably be to DH Brosseau with Toro at 3B and Anderson in the OF, or just let Mitchell hit against LHP, which I don't think Counsell will do.

    I wouldn't go as far as never. He definitely seems erratic from year to year against lefties, but he certainly has hit them well at times, including last year in his biggest sample (and note that in his bad seasons he had what were likely unsustainably low BABIPs):

    image.png.8f046e082a8c61a71e97dd96ae235295.png

    If you take 4-year splits (I extended it to 4 from my normal 3 to get a bigger sample and to even out a bit the fact that his two best seasons against lefties are in the past three years), he's still one of the top 9 hitters on this roster as well (not to mention has the highest BB rate and one of the lowest K rates against lefties):

    image.png.4c966d79a7ac9d78fe9163daf611d55b.png

    That said, it probably makes sense to give him his rests against lefties, but I'm just not in agreement that he shouldn't be in there "ever".

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    1 hour ago, monty57 said:

    Keeping Mitchell down so he could retain his rookie status while fielding Taylor and Davis at CF last year was one of the reasons we missed the playoffs, but I guess Taylor will suddenly be a viable starter now. Hope it works for them.

    Davis was on the roster from June 18 to August 26 posting 0.5 WAR and +0.21 WPA in his 91 PAs. Getting positive contributions in a small sample from their 6th OF didn’t cost them anything.

    Lorenzo Cain (-0.5 WAR | -1.73 WPA) has a much more substantial case for costing them a couple wins.

    Mitchell was hurt and did not play from May 14th through July 6th. He didn’t even get promoted to Nashville until August 2nd receiving only 85 PAs in AAA before getting called up.

    Given almost two months missed to injury & less than one month at AAA (plus the 41.2 K% in MLB), I think there is a better case that Mitchell was rushed than there is that he was held down for any kind of service time reasons.

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    Okay @brewerfan82 and @sveumrules, you caught me on a rant as I would like to see Frelick up on Opening Day. It is good to see that Winker is better vs LHP than I thought. He'll probably get cemented into the 3/4 hole everyday just like McCutchen was, but at least there is hope that he won't be completely horrible vs LHP, even if he should at least be moved down in the order.

    As to the "CF costing us games" comment, most were calling for Frelick to be brought up, and the only semi-logical argument why he wasn't was that the Brewers wanted him to retain rookie status in '23 for the new ROY rules. Surprisingly, it was Mitchell who was called up over Frelick, and since he still retains rookie status, the Brewers could get a draft pick if he does well enough in ROY voting. It could be argued that had Frelick been brought up a month or so earlier, it would have helped clear the hurdle to get into the playoffs. Taylor was bad, and while Davis provided value with magnificent defense, he struggled offensively. Hopefully Taylor plays better as our starting RF for the first month or so of '23 than he did as a starter in '22.

    As to Frelick, I think that he will be in AAA exactly as long as it takes for service time issues, and then will be starting in the majors. I like Taylor as a 4th OF, but not as a starter, and I like Winker a lot more as a DH than as someone who has to spend a lot of time in the field.

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