It’s not often that a reigning league home run leader is released with as little consideration as Chris Carter was by the Milwaukee Brewers this past off-season. Although not exactly a surprise Carter took the National League by storm last year blasting a league-leading 41 long balls in his fourth full season after averaging 30 per year with the Houston Astros during the three previous seasons. He also led his league in strikeouts (206) for the second time in the last four years with a .222 batting average, four points higher than his .218 career mark to date and a .321 on-base-percentage consistent with his .314 career line.
Three days before granting Carter free-agency the Brewers signed former major leaguer Eric Thames, to a three-year $15 million contract. Thames had spent the previous three seasons as one of the premier sluggers in the Korean Baseball Organization knocking 126 home runs for the NC Dinos, leading the KBO with 40 home runs in 2016 and finishing third with 47 in 2015, batting .348 in his three seasons with the team. Thames should be one of the game’s most interesting stories this year.
In recent years major league scouts have increased their efforts in the Korean Baseball Organization. Byung Ho Park who led the KBO with 53 home runs in 2015 was signed by the Minnesota Twins last year and hit 12 home runs in 62 games with a .191 batting average before being optioned to AAA Rochester for the remainder of the season.
Six years removed from the team’s first-place finish in 2011, Milwaukee has been stuck in a state of stagnation eclipsing .500 only twice in the last six years. Last year’s 73-89 mark was a five game improvement over the previous season but the Brewers remain in rebuilding mode and attempted to trade 10-year veteran and all-time franchise home run leader Ryan Braun (285) to the Los Angeles Dodgers last year before the deal fell through. Braun hit 30 home runs with 91 RBI and a .305 batting average and has four years and $76 million remaining on his contract. At the time of this writing Braun remained on the trading block and his right to refuse a trade to any team is scheduled to go into effect in May.
In his first full season 23-year-old Zach Davies led all Brewers pitchers with 11 wins against seven losses with a 3.97 ERA while 31-year-old rookie Junior Guerra was 9-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 20 starts.
Milwaukee Brewers Prospects to Watch
Prospect to watch: Left-handed pitcher Josh Hader compiled a 3-8 record with a 3.29 ERA with 161 strikeouts in 126 innings at AA Biloxi and AAA Colorado Springs in 2016.