With the 2012 season in the books, let’s get down to business in sorting out the 40-man roster situation in advance of the free agent decisions to be made.
Since the first post in this series, the Brewers acquired LHP Miguel De los Santos from the Rangers off of waivers. He still has 1 option year remaining and probably won’t factor into the bullpen plans in 2013. They also outrighted RHP Cody Scarpetta, IF Eric Farris, IF Hector Gomez, RHP Livan Hernandez, and C Yorvit Torrealba to AAA Nashville while purchasing the contract of RHP Jesus Sanchez (3 options remain). Hernandez and Torrealba are just a procedural move as both were set to depart via FA and because they needed to reinstate 1B Mat Gamel, LHP Chris Narveson, and SS Alex Gonzalez in addition to adding Sanchez to a pretty full 40-man roster. Farris and Gomez were pretty easy drops in my opinion as they’re organizational filler types at this point in their career. Dropping Scarpetta now seems to be a calculated risk in trying to keep his arm in the organization as he’s eligible for the Rule V draft, but he still hasn’t returned from an injury that sidelined him from the 2012 season. They probably figure he’s easier to sneak through now then if he was pitching well in ST. The Sanchez addition was foreshadowed in the first part as an incentive to retain him because he was eligible to be a minor league FA.
With all the moves made to the 40-man roster in the last 2 months, it currently stands at 36 players.
MLBTradeRumors.com has given it’s projections for the arbitration eligible candidates currently on the Brewers roster.
First Time: John Axford ($5.1 M), Travis Ishikawa ($.9 M), Chris Narveson ($.8 M), and Marco Estrada ($1.6 M)
Second Time: Nyjer Morgan ($2.6 M)
Third Time: Jose Veras ($2.6 M), Manny Parra ($1.6 M), and Kameron Loe ($2.6 M)
Fourth Time: Carlos Gomez ($3.4 M)
Assuming all of those guys are tendered arbitration (not likely), the payroll currently comes to ~$73 M. ($51.75 M for previous commitments and $21.2 M for all of the arbitration eligible players) Travis Ishikawa and Nyjer Morgan are 2 guys that are pushed to the wayside because of the emergence of Norichicka Aoki and Carlos Gomez’ bat with 2 cheaper options in Gamel and Schafer at their positions behind them. As of right now, those are the 2 that I believe are going to be non-tendered by the Brewers. Any or all of Veras, Parra, and Loe could end up being non-tendered by the Brewers as well, but I would hate to see them do it only to go out and sign a Jon Rauch or a Juan Carlos Oviedo for more money than what those three are being paid. (Veras was officially outrighted during the writing of this blog)
Another factor in the decision is going to be which Rule V eligible players are going to be added. I think the 2 clear cut decisions for the Brewers will be RHP Hiram Burgos and OF Khris Davis. That leaves the 40-man roster with 33 players assuming the RP trio is dropped as well. Some players I think the Brewers will look at as additional adds are 1B Sean Halton, RHP Rob Wooten, and maybe LHP R.J. Seidel and RHP Kyle Heckathorn. I think Wooten has earned a shot to compete for a bullpen spot just as much as Sanchez has. Halton is more of a depth guy/potential solution for 1B when Hart leaves after 2013 when there’s still question marks surrounding Gamel and Hunter Morris. Heckathorn stalled as a starter in 2012 and was switched to the bullpen fulltime in the second half. He’s an interesting one to think on because he’s still got a good arm and could make a quick transition to the bullpen. I mention R.J. Seidel because he’s a LHP who had success in AA despite being used as a LR/spot starter. He could make for a cheap LOOGY option out of the pen assuming Parra is gone. (I think it’s safe to assume he’s gone as well as Loe)
If it were me, Wooten would for sure be added to the 40-man roster, and there’s room to add Halton with the departure of Parra and Loe. I still think I would hold onto Parra since arbitration isn’t 100% guaranteed and the amount we’d have to pay if we cut him in ST is minimal. This leaves my 40-Man roster at 36 players with a payroll of $61.85 M. ($89 M budget)
My next post will discuss the route I’d take in FA.