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Inbox: Will Brewers make surprise signing?

Beat reporter Adam McCalvy answers fans' questions
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 19: Manager Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with Jesus Aguilar #24 after Aguilar hit a home run in the third inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park on September 19, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Feb. 8th, 2019

What are the odds of a last-minute surprise regarding one of the available free agents? -- @KenandTonic on TwitterI'll just say the odds of additional signings are high, considering there are 30 teams and something like 100 players still out there in free agency, including some infielders like Josh Harrison

What are the odds of a last-minute surprise regarding one of the available free agents?
-- @KenandTonic on Twitter

I'll just say the odds of additional signings are high, considering there are 30 teams and something like 100 players still out there in free agency, including some infielders like Josh Harrison and Mike Moustakas. (You can track the market here.) The question is the same it's been since the Brewers dropped $18.25 million on Yasmani Grandal: How much more are they willing to spend? They are already in record payroll territory, and my understanding is they will only push higher if the baseball ops team can convince owner Mark Attanasio it's a smart price for a player who will make an impact.
I'll say this again: The roster at the start of Spring Training isn't the final team. Neither is the roster on Opening Day. Part of the trick in building a team is baking in some flexibility to make in-season moves as needs arise.
It's worth noting that the Brewers reportedly plucked one of those available free agents off the market on Thursday with a Minor League deal for right-hander Josh Tomlin, per The Athletic. Tomlin isn't the top-end pitcher many fans are pining for, but it's a low-risk deal for someone with experience in every role imaginable.
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Actually, it might be smart for the established position players to wait until close to the Feb. 18 report date to show. The Brewers played deep into last October, most of the roster is returning, and outside of second base there are not really any position battles. Why extend a Spring Training that is already too long for most hitters?
Anyway, that's the logical take. I'm sure it will be close to a full house by the middle of next week, if only because players are eager to start up again. And the young players, especially those like Tyrone Taylor, Troy Stokes and Lucas Erceg, will want to get their bearings before things ramp up.

This is difficult to answer because we just don't know. I'm guessing that neither does president of baseball operations David Stearns or Craig Counsell, because it's not as if this is mapped out and there is a plan to summon Mauricio Dubon or Keston Hiura on a certain date. If the platoon works, fine. If it doesn't, they would have to consider a callup. Ideally, that would be late May or early June, after the schedule clears Super Two concerns.

The Brewers were seventh of 30 Major League teams last year with a .742 OPS against left-handers and eighth with a .419 slugging percentage. The National League Central, aside from a few very notable Chicago Cubs, is very right-handed. I would be surprised if Stearns is out there specifically hunting a right-handed hitter, but your point is well-taken that there is room for improvement at the bottom of the order.
Barring another roster move, here's one early guess at how the Brewers will line up against lefties (2018 OPS vs. LHP):
1. Lorenzo Cain, CF (.979)

  1. Christian Yelich. RF (.983)
  2. Ryan Braun, LF (.859)
  3. Jesús Aguilar, 1B (.929)
  4. Yasmani Grandal, C (.844)
  5. Hernán Pérez, 2B (.783)
  6. Travis Shaw/Tyler Saladino, 3B (.599/.472)
  7. Orlando Arcia, SS (.596)
    So, chalk it up as "We'll see." Thanks for the questions, gang. See you in Phoenix.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

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