Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ days with in the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization could be numbered. The team designated the 29-year-old part-time player for assignment on Friday and recalled relief pitcher Brent Suter in his place.
Since Nieuwenhuis is out of options, he must pass through waivers if he does not accept this assignment. The platoon player has not played for any of the Brewers’ minor league teams and hasn’t ventured to the minors at all since the 2015 season. He last vacillated between the Mets’ minor league teams and eventual National League champion big-league outfit.
He’s making $900,000 this season and is not eligible for free agency until 2020, which could entice a team to claim the struggling outfielder who has a .409 career slugging percentage against right-handed pitching.
That said, the left-handed-hitting Nieuwenhuis has never been particularly good at making contact — even against righties. He’s a career .220 hitter (.231 vs. right-handers) and is not playable against southpaws (.145 career average in 147 plate appearances — more than 800 fewer than he’s received against righties). This season, he’s hitting .080/.233/.240 in 30 at-bats as a Milwaukee backup outfielder.
The Brewers currently have just three pure outfielders on their roster, although Hernan Perez is an infielder/outfielder type and will likely serve as the fourth outfielder in the meantime. He’s played a game apiece in left and center field this season.
Keon Broxton is scuffling thus far as well, hitting just .119, so the Brewers have one fewer option against right-handed pitching now that they’ve pulled the plug on Nieuwenhuis.
The 27-year-old Suter made his big-league debut last season and finished with a 3.32 ERA in 14 games (21.1 innings). It hasn’t gone as well for the left-handed reliever this season. His ERA sits at 10.80 after 3.1 frames.