Brewers add Spangenberg to infield mix

Stearns open to more additions: 'There's plenty of offseason left'

January 4th, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers on Friday finalized a $1.2 million, one-year contract for , who primarily appeared at second base for the Padres last season. But that didn't end the team's search at the position.
Instead the Brewers remain in contact with a "wide variety" of infielders available in free agency, and they continue to talk trades, according to general manager David Stearns. They also remain open to the idea of using at second base, where he played much of the second half of 2018 following the acquisition of third baseman Mike Moustakas.
In other words, Stearns remains open-minded about the composition of Milwaukee's infield.
"Clearly, there are still many external options available, both via free agency and trade," Stearns said. "We continue to be involved in that area. But to get the opportunity to add someone like Cory to our organization, with his experience and versatility at the Major League level, with his athleticism, is something we did not want to pass up at this stage.
"There's plenty of offseason left. We continue to be engaged on a number of different concepts, and if the right deal is to be had to bring in another second-base option, we have to be open to that."
Free agents (Rockies), (Angels), (Yankees) and (Cubs) all came off the market recently, but many second-base types remain in play. Among them are , DJ LeMahieu, , Josh Harrison, , and -- some of whom may have to take the sort of short-term contract the Brewers prefer as they seek to bridge the gap to middle-infield prospects Keston Hiura and . Stearns has already said Hiura, the organization's No. 1 prospect, and Dubon, who is coming off ACL surgery, will start the season in the Minor Leagues.
Or the Brewers could put Shaw back at second and sign or trade for a third baseman. Moustakas remains among the free-agent options there.
"The amount of discussions behind the scenes has more or less been on par with some of our previous offseasons," Stearns said. "Maybe the nature of those discussions has changed somewhat. We've still been exploring a number of different concepts, and we always want to remain cognizant that one of the reasons we've had success over the last couple of years is because of our depth. To the extent we can continue to add to our depth with players who have options, that's really important to us.
"We saw last year how many players you go through, how many players you need to contribute at the Major League level. Having players who can do that in different capacities at different points of the season is very important to us."
Spangenberg, a left-handed hitter, has a Minor League option remaining and two years of club control. His contract, the terms of which were set before Christmas but required a physical exam, is reportedly a split deal that would pay him $250,000 in the Minors.

He mostly manned third base (168 games) and second base (142 games) for San Diego, but Stearns and the Brewers see potential for "significant growth elsewhere" and will give Spangenberg, 27, reps at shortstop and in the outfield during Spring Training. He's pitched as many big league innings (two) as he has played shortstop in the Majors.
In 387 games over five seasons, Spangenberg is a .258/.318/.391 hitter in the big leagues.
"This is a player with a significant amount of positional versatility," Stearns said. "A player who has had success at the Major League level. We believe he is a very athletic player, a player with potentially some untapped power in there. We're excited to get him into the organization and get him to Spring Training.
"With his athleticism and baseball acumen, this is a player who has the potential, if the roster dictates it, to turn into a real super-utility-type player."
The Brewers already had a right-handed-hitting version of that in , who posted a .783 OPS last season against left-handers. Spangenberg, meanwhile, fared much better against righties, with a .725 OPS last year.