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Crew inks 3B Middlebrooks to Minors deal

Former top prospect will get invitation to Major League Spring Training
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

NEW YORK -- For the second time in as many weeks, the Brewers have brought in Boston's third baseman of the future.

Last week, it was a trade for former top prospect Garin Cecchini. On Tuesday, it was a Minor League agreement with 27-year-old Will Middlebrooks, who will be in the Brewers' big league Spring Training camp.

NEW YORK -- For the second time in as many weeks, the Brewers have brought in Boston's third baseman of the future.

Last week, it was a trade for former top prospect Garin Cecchini. On Tuesday, it was a Minor League agreement with 27-year-old Will Middlebrooks, who will be in the Brewers' big league Spring Training camp.

Hot Stove Tracker: Free agents and trades

Both Cecchini and Middlebrooks were once consensus picks for baseball's Top 100 Prospect list, but have endured back-to-back seasons of offensive slumps. They join another offseason acquisition of Milwaukee GM David Stearns, Jonathan Villar, as internal candidates to man third base for the Brewers in 2016. That position has been wide open since the team traded Aramis Ramirez in July, sparking a rebuilding project.

Middlebrooks is a right-handed hitter, Cecchini hits left-handed and Villar is a switch-hitter.

Middlebrooks hit 32 home runs with 103 RBIs in his first 169 Major League games from 2012-13, manning third base in the World Series for the '13 champs. But he struggled to a .191 batting average in 63 games in 2014, missing time with calf and finger injuries, and he was traded to the Padres that December for catcher Ryan Hanigan. In 2015, Middlebrooks hit just .212/.241/.361 in 83 games for San Diego, with nine home runs and 29 RBIs.

He became a free agent after the Padres non-tendered him on Dec. 2 to avoid entering the arbitration process.

The Brewers' list of non-roster invitees has more than doubled this week, with Middlebrooks joining first baseman Jake Elmore, outfielder Alex Presley and pitcher Daniel Tillman, and catcher Manny Pina last week. Earlier in the offseason, the Brewers announced that catcher Rene Garcia, infielder Hernan Perez and right-hander Hiram Burgos had also received non-roster invitations to camp.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. 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, Will Middlebrooks