With the trade of Francisco Rodriguez the Brewers shed a significant portion of the payroll in addition to opening a roster spot in the bullpen. K-Rod was set to make $7.5 million next year. With an open roster spot I took a look at the relief options currently on the 40-man roster. Ariel Pena was the only one without minor league options that was not already in the bullpen. So for the time being we'll act as though the spot is his.
If the Brewers decide to add a reliever either through trade or free agency I think there's a reasonably good chance Pena gets removed from the 40-man roster as he's lowest on the totem poll. Though they could simply choose to send Cravy to AAA and keep Pena.
The Brewers also acquired left-handed outfielder Ramon Flores. He is out of options and David Stearns has said the expectation is that he will make the roster--though he suffered a broken ankle late this season and may not be ready. His best fit is as a fourth outfielder and while he has some experience at first base he likely won't factor in there. He is "capable" of playing all three outfield spots but his best fit is in left field. His profile is very similar to Shane Peterson who is also out of minor league options.
For right now I still have the Brewers opening the season with Peterson because of Flores' broken ankle. That being said I wouldn't be surprised to see them trade Peterson before the winter has concluded as it's somewhat redundant to have both players.
In the original iteration of this projection I had both Hernan Perez and Luis Sardinas on the bench. Perez has since been DFA'd and Sardinas traded. So Elian Herrera was the only 2B/SS/3B guy on the bench and I think the Brewers will want one more. Yadiel Rivera is the only choice.
Originally I had Herrera as the starting third baseman. But the Brewers acquisition of Jonathan Villar changes things. He has primarily played shortstop but Segura is still there and Stearns said Villar would factor into third base in some way. It wasn't stated that Villar would be the starting 3B but right now for the purposes of this projection that's where I have him.
Before we get to the table I just want to remind everyone this is not what I think the roster will look like on opening day in 2016. In fact I'm as certain as a person can be that this is not what the roster will look like. For one there are trades to be made yet. I think Adam Lind is as good as gone. I also wouldn't be surprised to see the Brewers sign a guy like Austin Jackson to play center field.
So with that out of the way here's what the Opening Day roster might look like if the Brewers only filled from within:
|C: Jonathan Lucroy- $4.35M||C: Martin Maldonado - $1.125M||SP: Matt Garza- $12.5M||RP: Will Smith- $1.2M|
|1B: Adam Lind- $8M||BN: Jason Rogers- $507,500||SP: Wily Peralta- $2.8M||RP: Jeremy Jeffress- $507,500|
|2B: Scooter Gennett- $507,500||BN: Elian Herrera- $507,500||SP: Jimmy Nelson- $507,500||RP: Michael Blazek- $507,500|
|3B: Jonathan Villar- $507,500||BN: Yadiel Rivera- $507,500||SP: T. Jungmann- $507,500||RP: Corey Knebel- $507,500|
|SS: Jean Segura- $3.2M||BN: S. Peterson- $507,500||SP: Zach Davies- $507,500||RP: Tyler Thornburg- $507,500|
|OF: Ryan Braun- $20M||RP: Ariel Pena- $507,500|
|OF: Khris Davis- $507,500||RP: Tyler Cravy- $507,500|
|OF: Domingo Santana- $507,500|
|Total: $37,580,000||Total: $3,155,000||Total: $16,822,500||Total: $4,245,000|
|Team Total: $61,802,500|
There was some confusion last time I published this table so I will explain a few things. Ryan Braun has part of his salary deferred. From 2016-2018 $4 million are deferred each season. Then from 2019-2020 $3M is deferred from each season. So that means the Brewers are actually only paying Ryan Braun $16M in 2016.
Matt Garza also has some of his salary deferred. In each season he has $2M deferred. So next year the Brewers are only paying him $10.5M. He can also make a total of $1M in incentives. He gets $0.5M for 190 innings pitched and 30 starts made. But let's be honest, he's not going to do that.
That means technically the Brewers are paying active players approximately $55M in 2016 as the roster stands now. But they do owe money to Kyle Lohse who had $7M deferred from his 2013 salary. From 2016 through 2018 they owe him approximately $2.333M.
So if we take out the deferred money from Garza and Braun, but the add the money owed to Lohse then the Brewers owe approximately $58,135,833. But I don't know if that's the same math the Brewers are using internally. Maybe they still consider the deferred money as part of that year's payroll. Then we're still talking closer to that $61M. Publicly they might be using a completely different number that includes Lohse's deferred money too and then we're talking $64M--which yes is counting some money twice but there can be PR value in saying you're spending more in a season than you actually are.
Regardless of the final number, at this point the Brewers have cut their payroll by at least $40 million from 2015's opening day payroll. Further payroll reduction is not something they really need to worry about. Though they likely will shed some more--probably in the form of an Adam Lind trade. And that will leave them with plenty of space to add some free agents.
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Contracts