MILWAUKEE -- The best season of Chris Carter's career has led to another trying winter. After a surprise non-tender left the National League's co-home run leader looking for a job, Carter now could be forced to look to Japan, his agent told Fox Sports on Monday.
"I think at some point we have to make it a serious consideration," Dave Stewart, the former Major League ace-turned-agent told Fox's Ken Rosenthal. "It's getting late there, too. Those teams are filling their spaces, too."
Carter considered offers from Japan last offseason as well, Stewart said, after he was non-tendered by the Astros at the conclusion of a subpar season. But this winter was supposed to be different; Carter signed an incentive-laden, one-year deal with the Brewers and cashed in every bonus, tying the Rockies' Nolan Arenado for the NL lead with 41 home runs. As expected, Carter struck out often, setting a Brewers record and leading the NL with 206 whiffs. But he also ranked among the NL's top 25 with an .821 OPS.
The Brewers expected Carter to earn as much as $11 million in arbitration -- MLB Trade Rumors' projection was lower, about $8 million -- and opted instead to sign Eric Thames, coming off three big years in the Korean Baseball Organization, for three years and $16 million guaranteed. If Milwaukee's scouting projections are correct, Thames could be a more well-rounded player for a lower price.
It marked the first time in Major League history that a reigning league home run champion was cut loose by a club.
Carter took the Brewers' surprise decision professionally, said GM David Stearns. Stewart immediately began looking for a new employer.
It proved an inopportune offseason to be a free agent slugger, as the likes of Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, Jose Bautista, Mike Napoli and Carter learned. Stewart acknowledged he's had talks with the Rays and Rangers, among other clubs. The Rays may offer Carter's best shot to remain in MLB, according to Rosenthal.
"We've had enough conversations -- I know what they're thinking," Stewart said of the Rays. "We just haven't advanced in that direction yet."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers 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.