Will Brewers be bigger players in free agency?

Carter was team's lone Major League signing last offseason

Will Brewers be bigger players in free agency?

MILWAUKEE -- The end of the World Series set baseball's clock ticking toward the start of free agency, which officially opened at 10:59 p.m. CT on Monday.

The Brewers were quiet on the free-agent front last year in GM David Stearns' first winter on the job. His only Major League free-agent acquisition was first baseman Chris Carter, who signed for $2.5 million plus $500,000 in incentives and became a bargain, bashing 41 home runs to tie for the National League lead.

As Milwaukee's rebuild enters its second offseason, it remains to be seen whether Stearns is a bigger player this time.

Arbitration-eligible: Chase Anderson, Carter, Scooter Gennett, Martin Maldonado, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, Carlos Torres

Free agents: Blaine Boyer and Chris Capuano

BIGGEST POTENTIAL FREE-AGENT LOSS: Boyer came aboard as a Minor League free agent, won a job in free agency and proved a steady producer out of the bullpen. His 61 appearances ranked third on the team to Torres and Thornburg. Boyer, who has pitched 131 innings with a 3.23 ERA over the past two seasons, will aim for a Major League deal somewhere.

POTENTIAL FREE-AGENT TARGETS: Assuming Jonathan Villar shifts to second base, the best fits for a free agent look like third base and catcher. The options at third are scarce, and there's almost no chance the rebuilding Brewers spring for Justin Turner, the top available player at the position. There are a number of catchers available for short-term rentals if the Brewers decide they'd like to keep Maldonado in a timeshare. Left-handed-hitting Jason Castro is one of them, and Stearns has shown an affinity for former Astros. The Brewers might also have to look at first basemen if they can't strike a deal to re-sign Carter before he gets too far into the arbitration process.

Stearns on Braun's future

WILD CARD SCENARIO: The crop of free-agent starting pitchers is not particularly impressive this year, with 37-year-old Rich Hill at the top of the list. But since the Brewers have a significant amount of financial flexibility -- and will have lots more if they trade Ryan Braun -- don't be surprised if Stearns jumps in on an arm if he finds one to his liking.

Adam McCalvy has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001. 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.