The Milwaukee Brewers held their season ending press conference yesterday, closing the book on a successful 2017 campaign that fell just short of a playoff berth. The organization took a major step forward this past season, and has decided to keep continuity with its coaching staff by bringing everyone back for next season:
Manager Craig Counsell was signed to a contract extension earlier this year that will carry him through the 2020 season, and now he and his coaching staff will have another year together to grow their young core of players. The group includes bench coach Pat Murphy, hitting coach Darnell Coles, pitching coach Derek Johnson, first base coach Carlos Subero, third base coach Ed Sedar, bullpen coach Lee Tunnell, and assistant coach Jason Lane.
Echoing comments made by owner Mark Attanasio last week, Counsell and GM David Stearns expect to have an active offseason in front of them:
When reporter suggests another small payroll in '18, CC says, "I don't know about that. I think David is going to do something about that."— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) October 3, 2017
Stearns acknowledged that Jimmy Nelson is expected to miss a “meaningful” portion of the 2018 season, so starting pitching will be one of Milwaukee’s priorities this winter. Counsell told reporters the team is months away from deciding whether Josh Hader will work as a starter or reliever next season, but that he definitely proved he belonged at the MLB level. The club will probably wait until spring to decide on a role for Hader once they know what their starting pitching and bullpen depth looks like when the offseason is all said and done.
Stearns also plans to “take a long look” at the second base position, which was a troublesome spot for the Brewers this season until the acquisition of Neil Walker in August. Walker is set to become a free agent this winter, as is utilityman Eric Sogard, who saw some time at the keystone in 2017. Jonathan Villar, who began the year as the Opening Day starter at second base before getting demoted to a bench role, can be retained through arbitration.
As of now the Brewers only have two guaranteed contracts on the books for next season: Ryan Braun and Eric Thames, who will combine to make around $24 mil. There’s a host of arbitration-eligible players on the roster beyond those two, but Milwaukee will still have plenty of flexibility to add payroll during the winter, be it through trade or free agency.
Stearns and Counsell would go on to praise the growth of several of the players on the roster this season, specifically citing Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson, Corey Knebel, and Orlando Arcia as important cogs going forward. Stearns also described the bullpen as “the backbone of the team for the last six weeks of the season.” Counsell praised the consistency of his team, noting that month-by-month the team’s record was very similar.
The franchise also announced yesterday that they had completed the purchase of the Carolina Mudcats, the club’s high-A affiliate. You can read more about that here.