Will Brewers be bigger players in free agency?

Carter was team's lone Major League signing last offseason

November 5th, 2016

MILWAUKEE -- The end of the World Series set baseball's clock ticking toward the start of free agency, which officially opened at 10:59 p.m. CT on Monday.

The Brewers were quiet on the free-agent front last year in GM David Stearns' first winter on the job. His only Major League free-agent acquisition was first baseman , who signed for $2.5 million plus $500,000 in incentives and became a bargain, bashing 41 home runs to tie for the National League lead.

As Milwaukee's rebuild enters its second offseason, it remains to be seen whether Stearns is a bigger player this time.

Arbitration-eligible:, Carter, , , , , ,

Free agents:  and

BIGGEST POTENTIAL FREE-AGENT LOSS: Boyer came aboard as a Minor League free agent, won a job in free agency and proved a steady producer out of the bullpen. His 61 appearances ranked third on the team to Torres and Thornburg. Boyer, who has pitched 131 innings with a 3.23 ERA over the past two seasons, will aim for a Major League deal somewhere.

POTENTIAL FREE-AGENT TARGETS: Assuming shifts to second base, the best fits for a free agent look like third base and catcher. The options at third are scarce, and there's almost no chance the rebuilding Brewers spring for , the top available player at the position. There are a number of catchers available for short-term rentals if the Brewers decide they'd like to keep Maldonado in a timeshare. Left-handed-hitting is one of them, and Stearns has shown an affinity for former Astros. The Brewers might also have to look at first basemen if they can't strike a deal to re-sign Carter before he gets too far into the arbitration process.

WILD CARD SCENARIO: The crop of free-agent starting pitchers is not particularly impressive this year, with 37-year-old at the top of the list. But since the Brewers have a significant amount of financial flexibility -- and will have lots more if they trade -- don't be surprised if Stearns jumps in on an arm if he finds one to his liking.