Three Moves I Want the Brewers to Make This Off-Season
Re-sign Corey Hart
We haven’t had a real first baseman on the team this entire season, and you bet the merry-go-round at first base has contributed to some of the Brewers struggles this year. Corey Hart was a first baseman in the minors before being converted into an outfielder, and then converted back into a first baseman last season. He excelled at the job, and is a five times better defender than anyone we have seen attempt to play first base this season. Juan Francisco is currently getting the majority of playing time over there, but he can’t hit left-handed pitching to save his life. Hart has already stated that he would be willing to accept a reduced salary and have an incentive-based contract if the Brewers brought him back next year, so he could be a semi-cheap option. Another plus would be that if he performed well, they would have a trade chip if they were out of the race before the trade deadline. Re-signing him is a win-win situation.
Trade Nori Aoki
His contract has a club option for 2014, and then he is a free agent. The Brewers probably aren’t going to be competing for a playoff spot next year, so it wouldn’t make sense to hold on to him, especially with the way that Caleb Gindl and Khris Davis have been playing lately. The Brewers also have Logan Schafer, who has been struggling offensively but is an excellent defender. Waiting until the 2014 trade deadline to trade him could also be a possibility, but if Aoki is still on the team by the end of the 2014 season, I will be disappointed.
Part ways with John Axford
Whether it be a trade or outright release, I don’t think that keeping Axford on the team for 2014 is an option. We’ve seen flashes of greatness with Axford this season, but when he loses it, he seems to lose it for weeks at a time. We’ve also seen guys come up from the minor leagues the past couple of seasons and pitch great, so next year would be a good opportunity to test out some more younger pitchers. Brandon Kintzler, Rob Wooten and Jim Henderson have all been outstanding since coming up from the minors, and I think that Tyler Thornburg is also bound to end up in the bullpen after excelling in a relief role this season. This goes to show that “closers” are very replaceable and you don’t have to spend $10MM on a relief pitcher in order to win ballgames. Axford is making $5MM this season, and would probably get about the same amount in arbitration again for next season. I think the Brewers could find a team that would be willing to trade for him, but at this point, releasing him wouldn’t be totally out of the question.