After acquiring Cecchini, Crew focuses on CF, infield

After acquiring Cecchini, Crew focuses on CF, infield

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Brewers added another competitor at third base with a minor trade in the waning moments of the Winter Meetings, acquiring former top 100 prospect Garin Cecchini from the Red Sox for cash.

Cecchini, 24, was a fourth-round Draft pick in 2010 and shot up the prospect rankings after batting .322 with a .443 on-base percentage in 2013, reaching the Double-A level in his age 22 season. He reached the Majors in 2014, but found himself blocked in Boston after the Sox signed third baseman Pablo Sandoval to a mega free agent contract, and he slumped badly in 2015 (.213/.286/.296) at Triple-A Pawtucket while learning the outfield.

Winter Meetings highlights
Below were the biggest moves of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
12/9: D-backs acquire RHP Shelby Miller from Braves for OF Ender Inciarte, RHP Aaron Blair, SS Dansby Swanson.
Mets acquire 2B Neil Walker from Pirates for LHP Jon Niese.
Astros to acquire RHP Ken Giles from Phillies for RHP Vincent Velasquez, LHP Brett Oberholtzer, others. Not official.
White Sox acquire IF Brett Lawrie from A's for two Minor Leaguers.
Mets to sign SS Asdrubal Cabrera to 2-year deal. Not official.
Mariners acquire 1B Adam Lind from Brewers for three Minor Leaguers.
12/8: D-backs sign 6-year deal with Zack Greinke.
Cubs sign 4-year deal with 2B Ben Zobrist.
Yankees acquire 2B Starlin Castro from Cubs for RHP Adam Warren, PTBNL.
Cubs sign 2-year deal with RHP John Lackey.
Cardinals acquire 2B Jedd Gyorko from Padres for OF Jon Jay.
12/7: Dodgers near 3-year deal with RHP Hisashi Iwakuma. Not official.
Mariners acquire LHP Wade Miley, RHP Jonathan Aro from Red Sox for RHP Carson Smith, LHP Roenis Elias.
Royals sign 2-year deal with RHP Chris Young.
Hot Stove Tracker | MLB Transactions

Cecchini can also play first base, another position of need for the Brewers after they traded Adam Lind to the Mariners on Wednesday. But Cecchini probably fits best at third base, the thinnest position in Milwaukee's system, including at the Major League level. Earlier this offseason, the Brewers acquired Jonathan Villar from the Astros as an option at the position.

The Red Sox designated Cecchini for assignment last week when they signed David Price.

"Still like him, still believe in him," Boston GM Mike Hazen said of Cecchini. "He's a good player. Just happened to get in the situation now with the roster that we had to make a decision, make a move. Talking to him, I know he was disappointed by last year. We think very highly of him. He's going to have a good career in the big leagues. Just right now, we had to make this move."

Cecchini has a Minor League option remaining. Villar is out of options.

Deals done
The Brewers' most notable Winter Meetings transaction gained traction after dinner Tuesday and was completed by Wednesday morning. In trading Lind to the Mariners for three teenage pitching prospects (right-handers Daniel Missaki, Carlos Herrera and Freddy Peralta), Brewers GM David Stearns admitted the Brewers were taking on some risk.

"Whenever you acquire players who are farther away, there is more variability," Stearns said. "In a deal like this, we are really targeting that type of variability to find an impact-type pitcher, even if it is multiple years down the road."

The team then made two transactions Thursday. After acquiring Cecchini, the Brewers announced they'd also received catcher Manny Pina from the Tigers as the player to be named later in last month's trade with Detroit for Francisco Rodriguez. Pina wasn't placed on Milwaukee's 40-man roster, but he did get an invitation to big league Spring Training camp.

Rule 5 Draft
Cecchini was one of three players added to Milwaukee's 40-man roster on Thursday. The team also selected a pair of players in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft; infielder Colin Walsh, a switch-hitting on-base machine from the A's organization, and right-handed pitcher Zack Jones, a strikeout pitcher from the Twins. Both must stay on the Major League roster all season in order to remain property of the Brewers, who haven't carried a pair of Rule 5 picks since infielder Enrique Cruz and left-hander Matt Ford in 2003.

Brewers acquire Cecchini

Goals accomplished
Trading Lind had been a priority since the Brewers exercised his $8 million option for next season, and now Stearns can move on to other matters. His week at the Winter Meetings was useful in gathering information about interest in other players, including catcher Jonathan Lucroy and catcher Jean Segura, who could be moved next. It was also a great opportunity to gather his baseball operations team in one room to see how they interact together. Given Stearns' mountain of other obligations since assuming GM duties, the group had fewer than usual opportunities to get together in person in recent weeks.

Unfinished business
Manager Craig Counsell hinted at many moves to come, saying on Wednesday, "Let's understand it's December 9th. There's time to -- there's going to be players acquired."

Center field is a priority now, Counsell said, and even in the wake of the deal for Cecchini, Stearns will be eyeing third base and first base. The Brewers have had contact with agent Scott Boras on free agent Pedro Alvarez, who has experience at both infield corners and could provide the Brewers with power.

GM's bottom line
"We're trying to add as much talent to the organization as we can. Some of that will be at the upper levels and Major Leagues. You will see transactions in the coming days, weeks and months that directly impact the Major League team. This is a transaction we hope will have an effect on the organization in years to come." -- Stearns

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.