Michael Brantley made his big-league debut last September filling in for the injured Grady Sizemore in center field, but now that Sizemore is healthy the Indians are thinking about starting Brantley alongside him in left field.
Here’s manager Manny Acta:
What he did in September gives him a leg up on the position. That being said, we all know he’s 22 and we’re still not going to be handing out jobs because we all have to do what’s best for the Indians and for the kid himself.
His primary competition? Scrap-heap veterans Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan, plus lesser prospects Trevor Crowe and Jordan Brown. In other words, if the Indians are open to Brantley being ready for the majors at age 23 his odds of claiming the gig–or at least two-thirds of the gig, in a lefty-righty platoon with Kearns or Duncan–are pretty strong.
And if Brantley fares well right away his presence will likely result in Sizemore moving from the leadoff spot to the middle of the order, because Brantley is a low-power speedster with a .387 on-base percentage and more walks than strikeouts in the minors. Baseball Think Factory projects Brantley to hit .282/.348/.360 as a rookie, while the Rotoworld Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide has him at .267/.337/.344.
Free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo is headed back to the Brewers on a major league deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. No other terms have been reported yet, as the agreement is still pending a physical.
Gallardo, 31, completed a one-year run with the Mariners before getting his $13 million option declined by the team last month. He provided little value during his time in Seattle, pitching to a 5-10 record in 22 starts and putting up a 5.72 ERA, 4.1 BB/9 and 6.5 SO/9 in 130 2/3 innings as both a starter and reliever.
Still, assuming the veteran righty is on the cusp of a comeback, he may as well try for it with his original club. Gallardo last appeared for the Brewers from 2007 to 2014, racking up a cumulative 20.8 fWAR and peaking during the 2010 season, when he earned his first All-Star nomination and Silver Slugger award. This will be his ninth career season with the club.
Even with Gallardo aboard, the Brewers are expected to continue deepening their pitching stores for 2018. With team ace Jimmy Nelson still recovering from shoulder surgery, the club will enter the season with a projected rotation of Gallardo, Zach Davies, Chase Anderson and Junior Guerra, the latter of whom pitched just 70 1/3 innings in 2017 following a right calf strain and shin contusion. Another big name pitcher could help cement Milwaukee’s rotation and keep them competitive for another year, though they don’t appear to have made any concrete moves in that direction so far.