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Free market: Brewers make use of waivers

GM Stearns has acquired 16 players in 18 months via the wire
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- When Nick Franklin joins the Brewers on Friday, he will join a long list of players to find their way to Miller Park via the waiver wire.

In 18 months since David Stearns took over as GM to lead the Brewers' rebuild, he has acquired 16 players via waivers. They include Opening Day starter Junior Guerra; Thursday's starting first baseman, Jesus Aguilar; and outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Franklin will become Stearns' 10th waiver claim to make it to the Majors.

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MILWAUKEE -- When Nick Franklin joins the Brewers on Friday, he will join a long list of players to find their way to Miller Park via the waiver wire.

In 18 months since David Stearns took over as GM to lead the Brewers' rebuild, he has acquired 16 players via waivers. They include Opening Day starter Junior Guerra; Thursday's starting first baseman, Jesus Aguilar; and outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Franklin will become Stearns' 10th waiver claim to make it to the Majors.

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Others never made it that far. Take the winter saga of slugging outfield prospect Adam Walker, a Milwaukee native whom the Brewers claimed from the Twins in November.

The Brewers designated Walker for assignment 10 days later in order to claim reliever Steve Geltz from the Rays, but wound up with neither player. The Orioles claimed Walker, who was later waived again and claimed by the Braves. And when the Brewers tried to outright Geltz from the 40-man roster, he elected free agency and later signed with the Dodgers.

Then there was Blake Parker. The Brewers claimed the reliever off waivers from the Angels on Nov. 23, then tried to slip him back through a month later only to see him claimed by the Angels. Parker won an Opening Day roster spot by striking out 24 batters in 12 1/3 innings this spring, recording 17 consecutive outs via strikeout in one stretch.

"I think we've attempted to be aggressive in every avenue of player acquisition, and the waiver wire is among those," Stearns said in February, soon after he claimed infielder Ehire Adrianza from the Giants and designated him for assignment in order to claim Aguilar from the Indians -- all in the span of three days. "Because the waiver wire is active every single day, there are talented players moving through. We have the ability to be more aggressive in that area than some others.

"We try to strategically pick our spots with transaction patterns. Sometimes it has worked and sometimes it hasn't. There is a strategic element to it because of what other teams' rosters look like. Are they full? Where in the calendar are we? I don't know that we're unique in how we're approaching that, but we have been active on the waiver wire in the last year, with some degree of success."

Indeed, the Brewers have found talent. It falls on manager Craig Counsell to manage it once those players reach the Majors.

"Younger rosters are going to be more fluid," Counsell said. "It's one of the hurdles that young players in their careers face, the insecurity about, 'Am I here? Am I there?' It's part of the challenge that they face, and I recognize it's a challenge for them. It's a mental challenge as much as anything, because we all want security.

"But it's also a team. … You have to look at it as a bigger picture."

The Brewers will have to remove a player from the 25-man roster to free space for Franklin's arrival Friday.

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.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Milwaukee Brewers