Now that the World Series is over, baseball's free agent season is well underway. Among the players hitting the open market are five Milwaukee Brewers. The list includes pitchers Livan Hernandez, Shaun Marcum, and Francisco Rodriguez, plus catcher Yorvit Torrealba and shortstop Alex Gonzalez. I think it's highly unlikely that any of the five will be back in Milwaukee in 2013, with the possible exception of Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was signed as a free agent in 2012 primarily to shore up the defense at shortstop. He got off to a decent start at the plate, hitting four homers and driving in 15 runs in 24 games before suffering a season ending knee injury. Later in the season the Brewers acquired 22 year old Jean Segura, their shortstop of the future, in the Zack Greinke trade. In 44 games, Segura hit .264 with 14 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 44 games. He's spending part of his off season in the Dominican Winter League, and was 11 for 27 at the plate with six RBIs in his first six games. I think the future is now for Segura, and he'll be the starting shortstop in 2013.
If Segura starts, Milwaukee will still need a capable backup shortstop. I believe the Brewers could make Gonzalez an offer for 2013 if he's willing to fill that role as the backup shortstop and if he can convince the club that he has recovered from his knee injury to the degree that he can still field his position at the level he did before he was hurt. A reduced role would also mean a smaller contract offer than the $4.25 million deal he had for 2012.
Hernandez was picked up in June as the Brewers desperately looked for pitching help as injuries piled up and the bullpen imploded. He somehow managed to go 3-0 with Milwaukee while posting a sky high 7.68 ERA in 26 appearances. Torrealba was picked up in September as an extra catcher for the Brewers' late season run at the playoffs. Neither Hernandez or Torrealba figured in Milwaukee's long term plans, and they knew it. They were the first two to elect to become free agents.
Rodriguez was part of the bullpen's infamous midseason meltdown. He finished with a 2-7 record and 4.38 ERA, plus seven blown saves in 10 chances. The Brewers need a makeover in the bullpen, and won't be bringing K-Rod back.
Marcum was out for two months but still finished 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 21 starts. His horrible 2011 post season (0-3, 14.90 ERA) probably sealed his fate, as no effort was made to offer him a contract extension in 2012. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has indicated he'd like to pick up a veteran pitcher to join the young starting staff, and obviously that veteran won't be Marcum.
A Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Mark Hudziak has been a fan of the Brewers since they moved to Milwaukee in 1970.
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