The local ball club announced the list of 50-plus participants slated to attend its annual Brewers On Deck event at the end of this month. Conspicuous by their absence were four players who’ve been rumored as possible trade pieces since Milwaukee has dived into rebuild mode.
Brewers On Deck will take place on Jan. 31 at the Wisconsin Center and feature players, alumni, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters representing the organization. The popular fan event includes family-friendly activities, interactive games for kids, autograph and photo opportunities, and Q&A sessions, as well as media interviews. According to the team, a portion of the proceeds will go to the Brewers Community Foundation.
As in past years, food donations are encouraged and will be accepted through Hunger Task Force.
Among the 33 current players attending are star outfielder Ryan Braun, well-liked infielder Scooter Gennett, talented pitchers Jimmy Nelson and Jeremy Jeffress, and top prospect Orlando Arcia (for the full roll call, see below). But beloved catcher Jonathan Lucroy, power-hitting outfielder Khris Davis, once-promising shortstop Jean Segura and veteran pitcher Matt Garza were not listed as participants – perhaps curiously, in some cases.
So what, if anything, can be gleaned from reading these tea leaves?
Lucroy is one of the team’s most valuable assets, a six-year Milwaukee veteran who, until an injury-plagued and unproductive season in 2015, was considered one of baseball’s best at his position. Under general manager David Stearns, the Brewers have a new organizational ethos and are reconstructing the roster with an eye toward inexperienced talent they can develop. Still only 29 years old, under team control for two more seasons and the darling of the city, Lucroy still has plenty to offer the Brewers and their young staff, but at this juncture for both sides, he might have more worth in a trade.
During baseball’s winter meetings last month in Nashville, Tenn., Stearns said he’d prefer having more players like Lucroy on the team than less, but the youthful GM also did not rule out dealing the catcher.
According to MLB.com, Lucroy’s nonattendance is due to a prior family commitment.
As for Davis, Segura and Garza, it’s not inconceivable their absences are in part because they’re currently stashed on the trade block. Both Davis and Segura have previously attended On Deck events and been mentioned in league rumors. And after all, the Brewers recently dealt their peer – young Jason Rogers – to the Pirates, despite him being the presumptive first baseman after the Adam Lind trade.
Davis socked a team-high 27 home runs in 2015, is 28 years old and not eligible for free agency until the 2020 season, all of which is appealing. He’s got one of the game's most desirable tools – power – and, despite defensive limitations and a .250 career average, his future potential could make him attractive to competing clubs.
For his part, Segura, after being acquired from the Angels in 2012, had a strong first year and a half in Milwaukee but has completely fallen off since the middle of 2013. At 25 and with four years of major-league experience, the slick-fielding Segura (.257 average, .617 OPS in 2015) still has value. And eligible for salary arbitration next season, with the gifted Arcia and a glut of middle infielders knocking at the door for the shortstop job, he is eminently expendable. In December, the Toronto Sun reported the Blue Jays had inquired about Segura, so the Brewers certainly appear willing to deal him.
And then there's Garza, who ... well, his year didn’t go swimmingly or end amicably in Milwaukee.
The ace-by-default completely collapsed, having the worst campaign of his career (6-14, 5.63 ERA) and, after angrily refusing a reassignment to the bullpen in September with an obscenity-laden tirade, was told by the team to stay home the rest of the season. A previously effective and dependable starter, Garza was originally signed for four years and $50 million, a club-record contract announced at the 2014 Brewers On Deck. However, two seasons later, alienated from the organization and fans, his value shot and role unsettled, it’s not surprising to see Garza left off the list for this year's event.
So who is on the list? And does it mean anything? What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Here are the players, coaches and alumni that will attend:
Manager and coaches:
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.