MESA, Ariz. -- Among the players delivered bad news Saturday as the Brewers moved closer to setting an Opening Day roster were the franchise's all-time strikeout king, the 2017 Opening Day starter and a hitter coming off a 20/20 season.Pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Junior Guerra and outfielder Keon Broxton are
MESA, Ariz. -- Among the players delivered bad news Saturday as the Brewers moved closer to setting an Opening Day roster were the franchise's all-time strikeout king, the 2017 Opening Day starter and a hitter coming off a 20/20 season.
Pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Junior Guerra and outfielder Keon Broxton are out, along with Brett Phillips and six other players who were either optioned to the Minors or, as in Gallardo's case, informed they will not make the team. By the end of the Brewers' busy morning, the starting rotation was set and the decisions were down to five players -- three relievers and two position players -- for three spots.
"Every conversation today was tough," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
A rundown of Counsell's busy morning:
• The Brewers optioned Guerra, Broxton and Phillips to Triple-A Colorado Springs and returned catcher Dustin Houle to Minor League camp.
• The team informed the other five non-roster invitees -- Christian Bethancourt, Nick Franklin, Radhames Liz, Nate Orf and Kyle Wren -- that they will not make the team. Those five will, however, stay with the big league club through its exhibition games on Monday and Tuesday in Houston.
• Gallardo's bid for a second stint with the Brewers came to an end with word that he will not make the team.
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Gallardo, the former Brewers ace who was attempting to bounce back from two poor seasons with the Orioles and Mariners, signed a one-year non-guaranteed contract and reported to camp to compete for the rotation before being shifted to the bullpen competition. In the end, the Brewers decided they were unwilling to commit the $2 million Gallardo would have been guaranteed had he made the Opening Day bullpen, so they will try to find another team interested in taking on the 32-year-old before Monday's deadline to release him and owe a quarter of his salary as termination pay. General manager David Stearns said there had been some trade "chatter" on Gallardo.
A Brewers spokesperson said Gallardo was not available to comment.
"Look, this is the first time I've gotten to know him, and he was great to have around," Stearns said. "We had multiple younger guys, when we sent them out early in camp, mention Yo as someone who had impacted them. So that's not easy, especially given his history here."
"It's the kind of day we were anticipating when camp started, a day of difficult decisions of players who have contributed here at the big league level pretty substantially," Counsell said. "In Yo's case, he obviously has a long history with the organization. Even though he hasn't been here for a couple of years, we respect that and it certainly makes it harder."
Counsell also had difficult conversations with Guerra, last year's Opening Day starter who was burned by earning a fourth Minor League option somewhere along his winding path to the Major Leagues. The team instead chose left-hander Brent Suter and right-hander Brandon Woodruff for the final two starting rotation spots.
Woodruff, the Brewers' No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will spend the first week of the season in the bullpen because the Brewers don't require a fifth starter until April 6.
"I just did my part. I worked hard to make it work, and I feel like I performed decent enough, but obviously, it wasn't good enough to make the club," Guerra said through translator Carlos Brizuela. "Hey, that's part of the job."
Of falling from Opening Day starter to starting the next season in the Minors, Guerra said, "You feel a little down about it, but at the end of the day, it's a business. It's part of it. Last year, I didn't have that good of a year, and it affected me. Now I just have to keep working, keep putting up numbers and be ready to help the team out."
With Saturday's news, the Brewers roster decisions are down to five players -- relievers Oliver Drake, J.J. Hoover and Taylor Williams and first basemen Jesus Aguilar and Ji-Man Choi -- vying for three spots. Since the Brewers already have Eric Thames and Ryan Braun ticketed for first base, they will probably keep two relievers and one of the hitters, or perhaps all of the relievers.
Drake and Aguilar are out of options, while Williams has an option. Hoover and Choi are non-roster invitees who would need a spot on the Brewers' 40-man roster, which was full as of Saturday morning but will have an opening when Gallardo is removed. Another spot is available if the Brewers place Jimmy Nelson on the 60-day disabled list.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.