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.
There was only one player left from our last update who did not yet know what his 2017 salary would be. That was decided on Tuesday, when Chase Anderson lost his arbitration case to the Brewers. Now that everyone’s contracts have been officially signed for the 2017 season, here is how the payroll projects to look on Opening Day this season:
|Ryan Braun||$19,000,000||Eric Thames||$4,000,000||Matt Garza||$12,500,000||Neftali Feliz||$5,350,000|
|Kirk Nieuwenhuis||$900,000||Scooter Gennett||$2,525,000||Wily Peralta||$4,275,000||Carlos Torres||$2,175,000|
|Keon Broxton||$535,000||Jett Bandy||$535,000||Chase Anderson||$2,450,000||Tommy Milone||$1,250,000|
|Domingo Santana||$535,000||Orlando Arcia||$535,000||Junior Guerra||$535,000||Jimmy Nelson||$535,000|
|Michael Reed||$535,000||Jonathan Villar||$535,000||Zach Davies||$535,000||Jhan Marinez||$535,000|
|Hernan Perez||$535,000||Corey Knebel||$535,000|
|Travis Shaw||$535,000||Jacob Barnes||$535,000|
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. Neftali Feliz also has up to $1.5 mil in incentives that he can earn with his deal, Eric Thames can earn up to an extra $500K of incentives in his, and Tommy Milone can boost his (non-guaranteed) salary by an additional $2 mil by hitting his performance incentives.
- The MLB league minimum has been raised to $535,000 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 with the league minimum at $507,500).
- 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 Jacob Barnes or whoever being on this list, swap them out for another pre-arb player in your head. It won't affect the payroll projection.
The Brewers’ victory over Chase Anderson in front of the independent arbitrator ended up saving the club $400,000 in payroll space, although there shouldn’t really be much concern in that department. With less than $63 mil on the books as we head towards April 3rd, the Brewers are projected to pay out less in player wages than they did last year, which was already the league’s lowest payroll. Milwaukee has only 9 players on their active roster that aren’t on their pre-arbitration contracts, the lowest total of "veterans" in the league.
There is still time for the payroll projection to change, of course. At this point with camp having begun, it does seem unlikely that we’ll see a major trade that would reduce remunerations any further. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, however, that we could see some additional help brought in. Joba Chamberlain is with the Brewers on a minor league deal that would pay him $1.375 mil if he makes the team out of Spring Training, which would boost payroll closer to last year’s total. Remember too that Carlos Torres was signed to a major league deal last year just two days before Opening Day. Several quality players typically end up becoming available near the end of Spring Training as they exercise opt-out clauses in their contracts, and given the way David Stearns likes to mine the scrap heap, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him make a late addition to the roster.
Contract information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts