Last season according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Milwaukee Brewers opened the year with the league’s lowest payroll at just a shade under $64 mil. That figure was the lowest that the Brewers have seen since 2007 and was the first time the Opening Day payroll was below $80 mil since 2008.
Of course, that figure coincides with the rebuilding direction that the club has taken, jettisoning almost all of their veteran assets and guaranteed contracts in exchange for minor league talent and filling out most of the roster with players making at or near the league minimum. As things stand currently, the Brewers are projected to once again have one of the lowest payrolls in the league:
|Ryan Braun||$19,000,000||Martin Maldonado*||$1,600,000||Junior Guerra||$507,500||Tyler Thornburg*||$2,200,000|
|Keon Broxton||$507,500||Chris Carter*||$8,100,000||Zach Davies||$507,500||Carlos Torres*||$2,000,000|
|Domingo Santana||$507,500||Scooter Gennett*||$3,000,000||Chase Anderson*||$3,100,000||Jimmy Nelson||$507,500|
|Kirk Nieuwenhuis*||$1,600,000||Orlando Arcia||$507,500||Matt Garza||$12,500,000||Jhan Marinez||$507,500|
|Michael Reed||$507,500||Jonathan Villar||$507,500||Wily Peralta*||$4,400,000||Tyler Cravy||$507,500|
|Hernan Perez||$507,500||Corey Knebel||$507,500|
|Yadiel Rivera||$507,500||Jacob Barnes||$507,500|
There are a few caveats to this chart, of course:
- Ryan Braun ($4 mil) and Matt Garza ($2 mil) both have deferred money in their contract which will be paid out at a later date.
- Arbitration-eligible players Nieuwenhuis, Carter, Maldonado, Gennett, Anderson, Peralta, Thornburg, and Torres do not yet have their 2017 salaries officially set so the figures provided are projections from MLB Trade Rumors. Not all of these players are guaranteed to have their contracts tendered, either.
- The MLB league minimum is $507,500 and has been assigned to all pre-arbitration eligible players, though ultimately many of those players will make a small amount over the league minimum (for example, last season Jonathan Villar made $512,900).
- Pre-arb roster spots aren't set in stone, but they don't really affect the main topic of this post. So if you don't like Michael Reed or Tyler Cravy or whoever being on this list, swap them out for another pre-arb player. It won't affect the payroll projection.
There's plenty of time for that $64,605,000 projection to change, as the offseason has yet to really even begin. The biggest movement this winter would come from a trade of Ryan Braun. The club's highest paid player was the subject of rumors throughout the regular season, including a deal that would've sent Braun to the Dodgers prior to August 31 deadline for postseason eligibility. The club's other eight-figure man, Matt Garza, could also conceivably be dealt after a solid finish to the season. In both cases, however, the Brewers would probably have to kick in some money to facilitate a deal.
The Brewers do have some places on the roster they can invest some of that surplus payroll as well, namely at third base in the bullpen. Scooter Gennett appears to be an obvious trade candidate which would allow the club to move Jonathan Villar to the keystone and perhaps pursue someone like Luis Valbuena in free agency.
If the Brewers ultimately hang on to Braun and Garza, it wouldn't be surprising to see them make a couple of acquisitions that bring the payroll into the $75 mil range. However it's difficult to see the club going much beyond that level heading into 2017.