Grievance: Brewers Claim Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, eight days removed from being the lone elf at the Mets’ holiday party, will be shipping out to Milwaukee for Christmas after being claimed off waivers by the Brewers.

Nieuwenhuis was taken off of the 40-man roster yesterday to make room for the signing of fellow left-handed outfielder Alejandro De Aza. The Brewers have been busy, also claiming catcher Josmil Pinto from the Padres, and first baseman Andy Wilkins from the Rangers.

This move will make sense to me if and only if the Mets’ front office is planning on moving both Juan Lagares and De Aza to the bench. This will make sense if they have their sights on Yoenis Cespedes or Dexter Fowler. If not, and they instead pursue another back-up like Ryan Raburn like their past predicts they will do, Happy Festivus, because this is a major grievance of mine.

Kirk, similar to Wilmer Flores, (who ironically was nearly acquired by Milwaukee in a mid-season 2015 trade) brings an emotional story to fans’ eyes. A former third round draft pick, Nieuwenhuis was claimed off waivers by the Angels in May of 2015, only to be re-claimed by New York in June. The time in between was one of great thinking for the then-27 year old, even considering retirement at one point. Kirk, the devout Christian, looked to his faith in God as a reason to continue playing.

After a slow start to the season, Kirk came back to New York with something to prove. He promptly did so by having the first ever three-homer home game by a Met and a game-winning home run late in the season against the rival Washington Nationals to boot. These were two highlights of not only his career, but of the Mets’ shining new dynasty.

The emotionally-bound, farm-grown, on-the-rise Nieuwenhuis, who commands a measly salary of just over $500K this upcoming season, will now be replaced by the $5.75 million lateral aging acquisition, Alejandro De Aza.

I’m sorry, what?

I can’t help but wonder what the front office is thinking by wasting $5 million for a player of more or less equal caliber. Kirk is a far better fielder with more pop, whereas De Aza is a better contact hitter with slightly more speed. You mean to tell me that front office considers defense $5 million less important? Don’t get me wrong—I’ve always been a big fan of De Aza, and even supported the Mets’ decision to sign him while most fans didn’t. However, for some reason this front office has something against Kirk Nieuwenhuis—I just never thought they would sign a back-up caliber player for $5 million more to boot him out of the organization. I would love to hear the explanation behind doing so.

All I can say is that I hope Kirk does great things in Milwaukee. This organization has done an immense disservice to the former #3 prospect, and I hope he gets a better chance to succeed in Milwaukee. He’ll be vying for a job in center field in a struggling Brewers lineup, and I’m very interested and excited to see the numbers he can put up if he lands a starting job. As much as I’d love to see him back in a Mets uniform—for his sake, I sure hope the Mets don’t re-re-claim Nieuwenhuis. Best of luck, Kirk.

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