Restoring the rosters: No. 27 – Milwaukee

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This is part of a series articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
Now that we have the obvious bottom three out of the way, I have a group of six teams without much separating them. I’ve decided to go with the Brewers first, figuring that their lack of pitching depth would cost the team in the end.
Rotation
Yovani Gallardo
Ben Sheets
Manny Parra
Dana Eveland
Tim Dillard
Bullpen
Mike Adams
Mitch Stetter
Dennis Sarfate
Craig Breslow
Joe Thatcher
Ruddy Lugo
Jon Coutlangus
The Brewers have used an awful lot of high picks on big-time arms with very poor results. In fact, with Sheets temporarily out of the league, not one active pitcher drafted by the team has recorded 20 major league victories.
Dillard, the fifth starter here, is viewed as more of a reliever by the club, but he’s gong 10-5 with a 4.21 ERA in 21 starts in Triple-A this year. That’s good enough.
The bullpen is very weak, but Adams, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2001, might not be such a liability in the closer’s role. He has a 2.01 ERA in 89 1/3 innings for the Padres since the beginning of last year.
Lineup
2B Rickie Weeks
SS J.J. Hardy
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
RF Gary Sheffield
CF Corey Hart
3B Mat Gamel
C Angel Salome
Bench
1B/OF Matt LaPorta
OF Tony Gwynn Jr.
INF Ronnie Belliard
INF Bill Hall
C Robinson Cancel
The Brewers do possess a better lineup than many of the teams ahead of them on the list. Catcher is the only real problem in the lineup, and it might be that Cancel is currently a better option than Salome, who remains unpolished defensively. Jonathan Lucroy, who is a level behind Salome in Double-A, might prove to be the superior player.
Besides the obvious top-level talent in Braun and Fielder, the Brewers have a lot of depth here. Gwynn can play center, with Hart in right, when the Brewers need to put their best defensive lineup on the field. Geoff Jenkins is still just 34 and could yet be a decent enough right fielder against right-handers. Mark Loretta is another utility option and a better one than Hall at the moment, though Hall can’t be completely written off yet. Top prospect Alcides Escobar is also available.
Summary
Some spectacular misses with early first-round picks really hold the Brewers back here. Mark Rogers, Mike Jones, J.M. Gold, Kyle Peterson were all big flops, and 2006 pick Jeremy Jeffress seems on his way to joining the group in part because of a drug habit. Of course, every team has its failures when it comes to the draft. The difference is that it seems to be the Brewers’ only method for acquiring talent. Not one of the 25 players listed above was signed out of Latin America. The Brewers are trying to make up ground there now, and Escobar, who was signed out of Venezuela in 2003, could be a star. There’s a long way to go, though.

Marc Rzepczynski signs two-year, $11 million contract with Mariners

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 9: Marc Rzepczynski #23 of the Washington Nationals looks on before pitching against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning during game two of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 9, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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After rumors of the deal surfaced on Thursday, the Mariners officially signed veteran reliever Marc Rzepczynski to a two-year, $11 million deal on Friday night. Per a report by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the lefty is due $5.5 million in 2017 and 2018.

The signing marks the left-hander’s fourth trade since July 2015. He bounced from the Indians to the Padres at the 2015 trade deadline, then to the Athletics in the offseason, then to the Nationals in late August of 2016. Last season, he pitched to a career-best 2.64 ERA during 47 2/3 innings with the Athletics and Nationals, but hit an all-time low with 5.5 BB/9 that fed into a 1.59 K/BB rate. While the 31-year-old’s split against right-handed batters are underwhelming (a career .277/.377/.431 line with 123 walks and 24 home runs), he’s held lefties to a respectable .222/.291/.298 line with just 52 walks and eight homers.

Adding Rzepczynski to the bullpen should check off another to-do item for Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto, though FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman notes that the club is still likely to pursue an additional reliever and a No. 4 starter before the offseason comes to a close.

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Jose Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.