September Moves May Portend Future Transactions

A while back I wrote about who we might expect to receive a September call-up. Now that we’re in the second week of September, we have a pretty good idea of who is and isn’t coming up. The Brewers already promoted Domingo Santana and Zach Davies. Today, they will activate catcher Nevin Ashley and shortstop Luis Sardinas. Aside from Tyler Cravy, there have been no other promotions, and that says something about certain players who did not receive a call-up.

Primarily, I’m talking about Matt Clark and Juan Centeno. Each player was active on the Triple-A Colorado Springs roster. That team has finished it’s season. There is no longer any obligation keeping those players from receiving a call-up. The Double-A Biloxi roster, for example, is heading to the Southern League playoffs. The Brewers won’t call any of them up until after their run is finished, if at all. No such reasoning applies to Clark and Centeno.

Adam Lind could be traded in the offseason and Martin Maldonado’s strangle hold on the back-up catcher position is not as strong as it once was. You’d think the Brewers would want to get a look at any alternatives provided they exist. The fact that Clark and Centeno haven’t been called up yet cannot be good news for those two. It might suggest the Brewers don’t view them as realistic options.

Sometime before the winter meetings start in December, the Brewers are going to have to put a load of new players on the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. There are currently three open spots and one more opening up once Kyle Lohse officially becomes a free agent. Four spots will not be enough and more room will need to be made.

That means some players will need to be removed from the 40-man roster, either through trades or by designating players for assignment. By not promoting Matt Clark or Juan Centeno — something which could still happen — the Brewers could be foreshadowing their removal from the 40-man roster.

This seems to go double for Centeno since the Brewers chose to instead add minor-league-veteran catcher Nevin Ashley. Ashley was having a nice offensive season with Colorado Springs Sky Sox but at 31 years old with eight minor-league seasons under his belt, he doesn’t seem to have much upside. In fact, he’s probably a strong candidate to be DFA’d after the season ends much like Matt Pagnozzi last year.

One other player on the 40 man roster that has not received a call-up (yet) is Johnny Hellweg. He was part of the trade that send Zack Greinke to the Angels. He’s had a rough go of things. Last year, he under went Tommy John surgery. He returned mid-way through this season and has struggled, though that’s not altogether unexpected.

The Brevard County Manatees have finished their season. So like Clark and Centeno there is not obligation holding Hellweg back. Unlike Centeno and Clark, Johnny Hellweg no longer has any minor-league options remaining. That means if he’s still on the 40-man roster next year, he has to be put on the major league team or DFA’d. Given his struggles in the minors this year and the need to protect others from the Rule 5 draft, it seems unlikely the Brewers would forgo a call-up now only to keep him on the 40-man roster though spring training and hope he can make the Opening Day roster.

It will be interesting to see what happens once the Biloxi Shuckers are finished with (hopefully winning) the Southern League playoffs. A number of players from that team will need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft and as such could receive call-ups. But these call-ups would be more of the token variety for a job well done. In other words, it won’t mean anything if they don’t receive a call-up.

For players like Matt Clark, Juan Centeno and Johnny Hellweg, no September call-up could mean their time with the Brewers is nearing an end. Though it is always possible a player passes through waivers and accepts assignment which would keep him in the organization. It would still mean expectations for them have diminished.

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