The Milwaukee Brewers need to improve their bullpen for the 2013 MLB season, as it was the main reason why the team did not secure a second consecutive postseason berth this past year. One option would be to sign free agent reliever J.P. Howell to a multi-year contract.
Milwaukee currently only has two relievers signed for next season, closer John Axford and assumed setup man Jim Henderson, as the team plans to renovate the rest of the bullpen. The Brewers have several talented pitchers in the minors they would like give a shot in the Major Leagues, but Milwaukee will still need a few free agents to fill the veteran role.
The Brewers posted a 4.66 ERA last season (the worst in baseball) and will do everything in their power to improve that number for next year, especially since they had the No. 1 offense in the National League. Howell would certainly be a good start to make the bullpen better, and since the Tampa Bay Rays do not appear to be interested in re-signing the left hander, the Brewers have a legitimate shot at acquiring him.
Howell said he would prefer to stay with the Rays but did mention there are “a handful of teams” that have shown interest in him. Obviously, if Tampa Bay does not want him then he would have no problem signing somewhere else, especially with a contender such as Milwaukee. Howell went 1-0 with a 3.04 ERA, 42 strikeouts, 22 walks and three holds in 50 1/3 innings in 2012.
He did not pitch in 2010 after undergoing surgery in May of that year for his throwing shoulder. Howell reportedly felt weakness in his left shoulder and was only able to muster 12 pitches in a simulated game on May 17, 2010. He missed the entire year and followed it up with a poor 2011 season in which he posted a 2-3 record with a 6.16 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings.
The Brewers will need at least one left-handed reliever in their bullpen and Howell would certainly fill that role well. Not to mention, he made $1.35 million last year, which would fit perfectly into Milwaukee’s budget.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.