The Brewers made a pair of signings today, as they brought in veteran outfielder Trot Nixon and former Pirates prospect Chris Duffy.
The team, on Thursday, announced it had come to terms with the 34-year-old Nixon, who agreed to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. He will get an opportunity to win a spot on the bench for the Brewers, who are in need of left-handed bats.
"When I talked to Trot a couple of days ago, I told him I hope he is next year's Gabe Kapler," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "He's a guy that still wants to play, still has that great work ethic. We think he's worth a shot. On a Minor League contract, it's a low-risk situation."
Nixon's best years were in Boston from 2001-03, when he averaged 26 home runs and 90 RBIs. But he appeared in only 11 games in the Majors last season with the Mets, batting .171 (6-for-35) before going on the disabled list with a groin injury. Nixon did have Minor League success last season, batting .306 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs for the Diamondbacks' and Mets' Triple-A affiliates. Arizona traded him to New York for cash before an "out clause" kicked in that would have made Nixon a free agent.
The Brewers would love to see a resurgence from Nixon similar to the one enjoyed last season by Gabe Kapler, a Boston teammate from 2003-06. Kapler was a Minor League manager in 2007, but played a key role for the '08 Brewers before a shoulder injury ended his season. He batted .301 in 96 games.
Kapler is now a free agent. The team has instead been searching for ways to infuse left-handed bats, especially since talks between the Brewers and Yankees involving switch-hitter Melky Cabrera have broken down.
"Trot is down in Florida at a baseball facility, working hard," Melvin said. "He's adjusted to being a part-time player, and we think he could be a good, veteran guy for our ballclub."
Nixon was one of two outfielders who agreed to terms on a Minor League contract Thursday. The other was former Pirates' prospect Chris Duffy, who also received an invitation to big league camp.
Duffy is a .269 hitter in parts of three big league seasons with the Pirates, but he split last season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis while recovering from an August 2007 surgery on his left shoulder. Duffy, like Tony Gwynn Jr., who is on the 40-man roster and will also be competing for a backup outfield spot, is primarily a center fielder.
Nixon and Duffy make it nine non-roster players to get Spring Training invitations from the Brewers. The others are pitchers Joe Bateman, Chris Capuano, Lindsay Gulin, Sam Narron and Chris Narveson, first baseman Scott Thorman and outfielder Jason Bourgeois.
This is another great move by the Brewers, as they bring in a guy with plenty of major league experience and success. I can definitely see Nixon being this year's Gabe Kapler, except with even more opportunities, due to the fact that Nixon hits left-handed.
I don't see why Milwaukee has such little interest in Kapler. He was our best option off the bench last season, and could even step in and make a start every once in a while. Hopefully the Brewers' front office will realize the mistake they'd be making if they don't decide to re-sign Kapler.
While I don't have much knowledge about Duffy, other than that he was mainly a minor league center fielder in the Pirates organization, I can't see why he wouldn't be a decent addition to our team in Nashville.