Last year the deadline for clubs to pick up or decline options was 5 days after the World Series ended. I expect it will be the same this year. Again, that means the deadline will be between October 25-29.
Players with Options
Rickie Weeks: Poor Rickie Weeks. Well, actually he's made quite a lot of money in his career, but that's not what I meant. He used be amazing for the Brewers. His defense was always lacking, but his offensive prowess made him a top 10 player at his position. But, so many Brewers fans couldn't see past his strikeouts. Then injury and age turned him into a shell of his former self. The Brewers hold a club option at $11 million dollars, but it doesn't cost anything to decline it. There is zero chance the Brewers pick up that option and I think there is zero chance Weeks would be willing to come back as a bench player on a cheap contract. I wish him well in his future endeavors.
Aramis Ramirez: The aged third baseman was able to stay healthy for much of the season, requiring only one 15-day DL stint. He was solid defensively, but his offense really dropped. He mustered a terrific 130+ wRC+ in each of his 3 previous seasons, but only a 109 wRC+ this year.
The Brewers hold a $14 million mutual option on Ramirez. That means both sides have to agree to pick up the option for him to return. If the Brewers decline the option, they have to pay a $4 million buyout in 2 equal payments. One in December of 2015, the other in December of 2016. If Ramirez declines the option then the Brewers don't have to pay the buyout.
If Ramirez does decline his part of the option, it's very likely the Brewers would then extend him a qualifying offer which would be worth
approximately $14 million (Update: QO set at $15.3 million. I still say they'd offer the QO in this scenario). If it got to that point, Ramirez would almost certainly decline it. He's looking at $14 million with his guaranteed contract already, so the only reason to turn it down would be to seek a multi-year deal. If Ramirez did turn down the QO, then he would have draft pick compensation attached to him. The team that signed him would forfeit their top draft pick and the Brewers would get a compensation pick after the first round of the draft. This could hinder his ability to find a job outside of Milwaukee. Since the Brewers wouldn't have to give up that draft pick, this could help facilitate a 2 year deal worth less than $14 million AAV.
There are several options at third base hitting free agency this year. If the goal is to set up the team at third base for the next several years it might make sense to sign a guy like Chase Headley to a 3 or 4 year deal. If the goal is to find a stopgap between now and the next third base prospect then it makes some sense to return Ramirez.
As already mentioned, the Brewers could renegotiate with Ramirez on a different contract. For example they could sign him for 2 years and $20-25 million. It's also possible they could work out a 1 year deal with an option year tacked on, but it seems less likely than 2 guaranteed years. Ramirez is nearing the end of his career so a guaranteed contract over the next two years could make it worthwhile to him, even if it means signing for less than the $14 million next year.
It's not exactly my personal preference, but I expect the Brewers and Ramirez to agree to a deal that brings him back at least for next year and probably for the next two. I wouldn't be shocked if they both just picked up their ends of the option, but I think they renegotiate.
Yovani Gallardo: Depending on what you're looking at, you could say Gallardo had the most successful season of his career. His 3.51 ERA was the lowest of his career. I happen to disagree because I think you have to look deeper than that. However, you can't argue he didn't have a good year.
The Brewers hold a club option for $13 million. There is no chance the Brewers don't pick up his option. To sign a 29 year old who has made 30+ starts in each of his last 6 seasons, typically with a mid-3 ERA it would take 4 or more years for at the very least, and very likely for more than, $13 million annual average value. Instead the Brewers can essentially sign him to a 1 year deal.
There is a chance the Brewers could look to trade Gallardo. I sincerely doubt that happens, but I had to mention the possibility. I think the Brewers will be happy to start the season with a rotation of Gallardo-Kyle Lohse-Matt Garza-Wily Peralta-Mike Fiers with Jimmy Nelson, (maybe) Marco Estrada, and Taylor Jungmann as depth. That's a pretty strong pitching staff.
Tomorrow we'll wrap up this series on free agents by discussing the Brewers players are arb-eligible.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs
Payroll/contract details courtesy of Cot's Contracts