Last season according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Milwaukee Brewers opened the year with the league’s lowest payroll at just a shade over $63 mil. That was the second consecutive season that Milwaukee opened the year with a payroll of less than $65 mil after topping $80+ mil in eight straight seasons from 2008-2015. The Brewers did augment payroll a bit during the season when they added players from outside the organization for their playoff run, but even still were among the lowest-spending clubs in baseball.
At the beginning of the offseason, we posted our initial payroll projections for the Milwaukee Brewers for the upcoming season. The Brewers were quiet for most of the first couple of months of the winter, but a couple of recent signings as well as a somewhat surprising non-tender have altered the outlook for 2018. Here’s how things stand with the offseason now about halfway over as we enter the new year:
There are a few caveats to this chart, of course:
- Ryan Braun ($4 mil) has deferred money in his contract which will be paid out at a later date. Yovani Gallardo also has $2 mil in incentives available, Eric Thames has $500K, Chase Anderson has $400K, Eric Sogard has $650K, and Jeremy Jeffress has $2.2 mil.
- Arbitration-eligible players Villar, Perez, Nelson, and Knebel do not yet have their 2018 salaries officially set so the figures provided are projections from MLB Trade Rumors.
- The MLB league minimum is $545,000 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.
- 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 Keon Broxton or Aaron Wilkerson or whoever being on this list, swap them out for another pre-arb player. It won't affect the payroll projection.
- Jimmy Nelson will begin the 2018 season on the disabled list after undergoing shoulder surgery, and his timeline for return is still unclear at present.
The deadline for tendering arbitration contracts has come and gone since our last update, and two players have already settled on their salaries for 2018: catcher Stephen Vogt ($3.065 mil) and reliever Jeremy Jeffress ($1.75 mil). Right-hander Jared Hughes was non-tendered along with his $2.2 mil salary projection. He wound up landing on his feet with a two-year deal with the Reds.
The Brewers also signed two free agents to contracts for 2018: a front-loaded deal for Jhoulys Chacin and a non-guaranteed contract for old friend Yovani Gallardo. Chacin earned a $1.5 mil signing bonus and his $8 mil salary now makes him the second-highest paid member of the club after Ryan Braun. Gallardo’s deal would pay him a relatively minor $2 mil salary if he makes the Opening Day roster and comes with incentives based on pitching either as a starter or out of the bullpen.
With the moves that have been completed so far, the Brewers have seen their payroll rise from an initial projection of about $61.5 mil to a shade over $67 mil. Even though the offseason we are a mere six weeks away from the start of Spring Training, almost all of the major free agents remain available on the open market. There’s still plenty of time and money available for Slingin’ Stearns and the Brewers to make a splashy acquisition, if they so choose.