The offseason has begun and roster moves are already being made. Earlier this week the Brewers outrighted five players off their 40-man roster. Kyle Lohse also departed via free agency. Once Jimmy Nelson and Michael Blazek are returned from the 60-Day DL that will leave the Brewer with 4 open roster spots. Some or all of those spots will be filled by prospects needing protection from the Rule 5 draft.
Needless to say the 40-man roster is going to look very different in a few weeks and the 25-man roster will look a good deal different when the regular season begins. Players like Jean Segura, Adam Lind, Francisco Rodriguez, and possibly even Jonathan Lucroy could be traded this offseason--all pure speculation at this point on my part.
So it's impossible to come up with an accurate assessment of what the Opening Day roster will look like. It's also impossible to come up an accurate payroll projection at this time. But we can start to do a preliminary projection using in-house candidates. This will give us some idea of what the Brewers might do in the offseason. But first some explanation is needed about the table that follows.
That team total includes some money not contained within that table. The Brewers are on the hook for the buyout on Jonathan Broxton's 2016 option. That was worth $500,000. The Brewers also start paying Kyle Lohse his $7 million in deferred salary from 2013. That gets paid out in equal installments from 2016-2018. So in 2016 they own him $2.33 million. If you're curious the Brewers don't start paying Aramis Ramirez his $6M deferred salary until 2017 and then in two installments of $3M between 2017 and 2018.
Jean Segura, Wily Peralta, and Will Smith are all arbitration eligible. I used the projections from MLB Trade Rumors which you can see here. They are projected to make $3.2 M, $2.8 M, and $1.2 M respectively.
For those making league minimum I used the 2015 figure of $507,500. That should go up a bit--cost of living increase-in 2016 but the exact number hasn't been made public yet. It won't be a large increase, likely just a few thousand dollars. So whatever the change it won't be noticeable.
I also want to make clear that I'm not saying a guy like Elian Herrera WILL be the starting third baseman for next season. This is just what the roster would look like with all in-house candidates. If you see someone at a position and think, "Yuck!" then that's probably a pretty good indication his spot might be an area the Brewers look to upgrade this winter.
So 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: Francisco Rodriguez- $7.5M|
|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: Hernan Perez- $507,500||SP: Jimmy Nelson- $507,500||RP: Will Smith- $1.2M|
|3B: Elian Herrera- $507,500||BN: Luis Sardinas- $507,500||SP: T. Jungmann- $507,500||RP: Michael Blazek- $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: Corey Knebel- $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: $11,237,500|
|Team Total: $71,628,333|
For comparison the Brewers Opening Day payroll in 2015 was $104,237,000. Obviously the Brewers intend to cut that figure by some amount as they are now in a rebuilding phase. By filling only from within they would cut that figure by more than $30,000,000. But remember there is a good chance the Brewers make some trades this winter. They could cut that figure by a lot more yet.
I think a common misconception among baseball fans is that rebuilding clubs shouldn't spend money on their major league roster. Certainly the Brewers shouldn't go out and sign David Price right now. But they can, should, and probably will add some major league talent. They will do this for a variety of reasons.
They might get a veteran pitcher to eat some innings and take some of the load off the rookie pitchers. The fifth rotation spot is still up for grabs though I would think Zach Davies has the inside track. They could also sign a player with the intent of flipping him at the trade deadline for prospects. This is something the Astros and Cubs did with much success in the past and it's a practice we should hope the Brewers can emulate. Remember this if and when the Brewers sign a player that might not seem to make a lot of sense at the time.
The Brewers could also use that money on the international market instead. Or in addition. There's no reason they could do both depending on where the payroll is sitting.
Even though--or perhaps because--the Brewers aren't contending next year this winter figures to be one of the most interesting and exciting ones in recent memory. There is no telling what they might do. There are a wide array of possible trade scenarios and free agent signings that could happen. The Winter Meetings can't come soon enough!
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Contracts