Inbox: Where does offseason go from here?

Beat reporter Adam McCalvy answers fans' questions

December 21st, 2017

Is [general manager David] Stearns pulling back a bit on expectations? It does not look like he will make a "splash" move this year.
-- @SonOfaPitts

The Inbox was full of versions of this question. Erik asked, "Is the Brewers' silent offseason so far a sign that the front office doesn't like the team's chances next year, thus aren't willing to do something big?" MJR asked, "Do you think that the lack of movement is Stearns being committed to the long term, even if it means a step back in 2018? Are we still rebuilding, albeit in the later phases?"
The answer is we don't know yet. The way Stearns put it to me when I asked before the Winter Meetings about his overarching strategy is that he was open to a variety of different paths this offseason. At that time, he wouldn't rule out jumping on an opportunity to acquire a premier player at a good price, and then shifting toward the direction of "go for it" in the wake of that acquisition.
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But his comments to another publication read a bit differently. Asked about the possibility of bidding on a top free agent such as , Stearns told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Our market and our history here probably is a better indicator of the types of moves we're seeking than some of the external speculation."
The way I read that was, "Don't expect us to suddenly sign Arrieta."
So, we don't know yet how "big" the Brewers will go. The recent agreements with and indicate that Stearns & Co. are more content plucking from the second tier of free agents and letting the team develop one more year before going all-in. But maybe that is just a factor of this slowly developing offseason, in which many teams have made only modest moves so far. I think we need to wait and see what Stearns has in store for the rest of the winter.
Will the Brewers have a strict platoon at 1B next season, like during the second half of last season? Or will [Eric] Thames get a chance to hit left-handed pitching early on?
-- @wisconsin888

I predict this will go like it usually goes. Manager Craig Counsell will get asked in Spring Training about a first-base platoon, and he will say Thames will get an opportunity to hit both left-handers and right-handers. Then April will come and go and a platoon will emerge between Thames and . It just seems to me that it typically plays out that way, though was a notable exception last season.
I still get asked about first base a lot because many fans see it as a potential area of upgrade. Defensive metrics pulled down the combined WAR of Thames and Aguilar, but the Brewers' first-base platoon (plus and the others who saw occasional action at the position) tied for fifth in the Majors with a .379 weighted on-base average and tied and the Cubs for seventh with 131 weighted runs created plus. With needs in the pitching rank and potentially at second base, I just don't see Stearns diverting resources to a position where both Thames and Aguilar are a cost-controlled duo for at least the next two seasons.
Have the Brewers announced anything regarding extending the netting at Miller Park next season?
-- @AaronClements44

Yes, the Brewers were among the clubs that extended the netting to the end of each dugout. The project was already complete when I was at Miller Park for an MLB Network segment in October, and to be honest, the difference was so subtle that I didn't notice it until someone pointed it out. The extension is low enough that it will protect fans from screaming line drives while still allowing players to toss baseballs up and over to kids between innings. Hopefully that's a good compromise between fan safety and fan experience.