MILWAUKEE -- A month has passed since Brewers GM David Stearns suggested the possibility of bringing aboard not just one, but multiple relievers with experience working the late innings. So far, Milwaukee has made no news in that area.Here's a bold prediction, part of a series of stories on MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- A month has passed since Brewers GM David Stearns suggested the possibility of bringing aboard not just one, but multiple relievers with experience working the late innings. So far, Milwaukee has made no news in that area.
Here's a bold prediction, part of a series of stories on MLB.com forecasting what each team might do before the start of Spring Training: Stearns will come through, and at least one of his acquisitions could get a multi-year contract.
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"There are a lot of relievers who like our opportunity, who like the potential to pitch in high-leverage innings," Stearns said before departing the Winter Meetings.
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The Brewers can offer that opportunity after trading away Jeremy Jeffress, Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg during the final five months of 2016, leaving them with no one on the 40-man roster with more than Carlos Torres' four career saves.
Torres is an internal option to work high-leverage innings in 2017, as are Corey Knebel and Jacob Barnes. But the Brewers have significant payroll flexibility to spend on a reliever, and despite the clock ticking toward the date pitchers and catchers report to Maryvale Baseball Park (Feb. 14), a significant crop of late-inning types are still available on the open market.
Among them: Former Royals closer Greg Holland, whom the Brewers scouted at a showcase in the fall as the 31-year-old comes back from Tommy John surgery, plus former Giants closers Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, former Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, onetime Cardinals closer Noel Salas and onetime Angels closer Jordan Walden.
Other recently successful relievers still available in free agency include Joe Blanton, coming off a terrific set-up season for the Dodgers, along with fellow right-handers Matt Belisle, Blaine Boyer, Luke Hochevar, Brandon Morrow, Peter Moylan and Yusmeiro Petit, and left-handers Jerry Blevins, Boone Logan, Javier Lopez and Travis Wood. If the Brewers want to get creative, Alfredo Simon posted a 1.072 WHIP the last year he spent the whole season coming out of the 'pen (2013), and he's available. So is veteran Edwin Jackson, if Brewers scouts think he could extend his career in relief.
Holland, despite coming off injury, probably has the best chance to get that multi-year contract. Stearns said he is open to such a commitment for the right reliever.
Do any of those options excite you? Take to the comments below to make your case.
Meanwhile, Stearns & Co. will keep working.
"I think there are a number of options, both guys who have performed that role in the past and guys who haven't but would like to," Stearns said in December. "We're talking to a wide variety of those types of relief pitchers, and I think we'll likely being some of those guys into the fold and maintain a level of competition at the back end of our bullpen."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.