The Brewers took a step on Thursday towards solving their hole at second base by signing free agent Corey Spangenberg to a one-year contract. The deal will pay Spangenberg $1.2 million if he makes the major-league roster and $250K if he ends up in the minors, making this a very low-risk signing for the Crew.
Spangenberg has spent his entire career up until this point with the San Diego Padres, who selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. He owns a career slash line of .258/.307/.390, while logging the majority of his innings at second and third base. He also has played nearly 270 innings in left field, giving him some of that positional flexibility that the Brewers seem to value highly. Spangenberg’s finest season as a professional came in 2015, during which he hit .271/.333/.399 while accumulating 2.0 wins above replacement.
The main downside to Spangenberg’s game is he strikes out… a lot. He has a career strikeout percentage of 26.4%, with that number being elevated to 32.8% during the 2018 season. Spangenberg’s swing and miss tendencies hurt his offensive profile significantly given his general lack of power, and that is something that he will need to improve upon if he hopes to be a meaningful contributor to the Brewers in 2019.
If he makes the big-league roster, Spangenberg likely would form one-half of a platoon combination at second base, acting as the left-handed hitting option. With the roster’s current composition, the other half of that platoon would almost certainly be Hernan Perez. Spangenberg offered above-average production against righties last season, registering a 101 wRC+ mark while hitting .261/.332/.393. Perez, accordingly, hit .277/.304/.479 while putting up a wRC+ of 104 against lefties. The 2018 Brewers struggled to get any semblance of consistent offense prior to the Mike Moustakas trade in July, so having a league-average combination like Perez and Spangenberg would be a large improvement over the Crew’s situation at the start of last season.
Due to the low-risk nature of Spangenberg’s contract, the Brewers are not removed from exploring other second base options. They could still look to bring in an established player like Jed Lowrie, Brian Dozier, or Josh Harrison. In addition, they could still dip into the third base market and shift Travis Shaw to second base, which would significantly alter Spangenberg’s chances at making the roster. However, this signing to me says that it is very likely they will continue to look at stop-gap options like Spangenberg to plug the hole until either Keston Hiura or Mauricio Dubon is ready to take over at the big-league level.