Stearns explains why Crew didn't get Odorizzi

GM: Brewers not considering signing Lucroy; Counsell encouraged by Guerra's winter

February 18th, 2018

PHOENIX -- A common question in Brewers social media circles Sunday was this: If that's all it took to land Jake Odorizzi, why didn't the Brewers go get him?

Late Saturday, the Twins agreed to send a mid-level shortstop prospect to the Rays for Odorizzi. The former Milwaukee prospect battled injuries last season and is due $6.3 million in 2018, but he's entering his age-28 season, has two years of remaining club control and a 3.83 ERA in more than 700 Major League innings spent almost entirely in the American League East. Since the Brewers have both payroll space and room in the starting rotation, Odorizzi was rumored as a potential fit.

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As the Brewers examine any potential acquisition, general manager David Stearns said, "there's a balance of what the acquisition cost is and then whether we think that player is an upgrade. If he is an upgrade, how much? That is really the equation we're working through. That's true with any of the guys we are considering bringing in."

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Stearns has been saying that he is open to fortifying his rotation while expressing confidence in the competitors already in house. That stance, he said, has not changed in the wake of some falling dominoes, which include the Odorizzi trade and free-agent deals for (Mets) and (Orioles).

At the moment, Milwaukee has three starting spots spoken for, with a fourth earmarked for Jimmy Nelson upon his return from shoulder surgery. Candidates for the remaining starts include , , , , and .

"I think our stance is that if we can make an acquisition that we think can meaningfully upgrade the team at a responsible investment level, that's something we're open to," Stearns said. "But we also firmly have confidence in the group we have, and think that there is a relatively high bar to get above."

He added, "For us to spend resources, whether that's financial or prospect value, to bring someone in, it's going to have to be somebody who we think moves the needle."

Not looking at Luc

The same goes for the Brewers' catching ranks, Stearns suggested. For the second straight spring, the Brewers have three catchers for two spots, with likely to take one of them and and vying for the other. Neither Bandy nor Vogt can be optioned to the Minors.

There's no fit, it appears, for free-agent catcher and former Brewers All-Star .

"We know Luc well and he had a really nice career here and left a lot of really valuable memories," Stearns said. "I think we also have confidence in our current catching group. In general, I think we got pretty meaningful production from our catching group last year. Obviously, we have a decision to make there at some point in Spring Training. I think that's likely the group we end up going with."

High hopes for Guerra

The Brewers thought they were doing the right thing two offseasons ago when they asked Guerra, coming off a fantastic rookie season marred only by a late-season stint on the disabled list for a sore elbow, to skip his usual stint in Venezuela. With the benefit of hindsight, Brewers manager Craig Counsell wonders if that was the right call.

"He's [33] years old and he's played winter ball his entire life," Counsell said. "He threw a ton of innings and had the injury in August of 2016, so we were concerned about him playing winter ball. We wanted a break to happen, but was that the best thing for him? I think our intentions were right but … maybe we learned a lesson there."

After a 2017 season ruined by injury and poor performance, Guerra returned to winter ball and posted a 2.69 ERA in 77 innings for Tiburones de La Guaira, including five starts in the postseason. He struck out 42 and walked 29.

"I'm really encouraged by the fact he put himself in a good place this winter," Counsell said. "It went well, he feels great about it, so hopefully we're a little closer to the guy who entered in the spring of 2016."