The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is tomorrow, and the Brewers have one of the biggest “to tender or not to tender” decisions in the league to make when it comes to second baseman Jonathan Schoop.
A streaky player who never quite broke out of a half-season-long cold streak with the Brewers, Schoop is projected to earn about $10 million next year if the Brewers keep and go into arbitration with him. That’s a lot of money for a team like the Brewers to spend on a player who may not provide very much production, leading him to pop up on just about every non-tender candidate list put out over the past month.
Now, according to Ken Rosenthal, it’s a “strong possibility” David Stearns admits his mistake and either trades Schoop or cuts him loose on Friday:
Very interesting 27-year-old second baseman could hit open market tomorrow. Sources indicating strong possibility #Brewers will non-tender 2017 All-Star Jonathan Schoop. Team evaluating all options, including trade. Schoop projected for $10.1M in arbitration, per @mlbtraderumors.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 29, 2018
Keep in mind: Teams talking to #Brewers about trading for Schoop know they soon might be in position to sign him as a free agent without giving up anything in return. The downside: They would face competition on open market. https://t.co/gDFv3sg1Af— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 29, 2018
As Rosenthal notes, the possibility of the Brewers non-tendering Schoop was one of the worst-kept secrets in the league, and if a trade happened, it likely wouldn’t be for much — and very likely nothing that approaches what they gave up to get him at the trade deadline. Still, Stearns may decide any recouped value is better than none at all.
While any team trading for Schoop would at the very least earn the right of first refusal, plenty of teams may just prefer to wait and see if Schoop truly does become a free agent because it may end up saving them money. Even though Schoop’s progression through the arbitration system has him up to the level of 8 figures at this point, it’s highly unlikely there would be enough demand for him on the free agent market for him to secure that kind of salary, even on a one-year deal. Some teams may prefer to wait the process out and see if they could save $2-3 million in annual salary.
Things can still change quickly in a day, but at this point, it looks like Schoop may have played his last game for the Brewers, one way or another.
Schoop hit just .202/.246/.331 with 4 home runs and 41 strikeouts in 46 games with the Brewers, with an OPS 143 points lower than it was with Baltimore.
Jonathan Villar hit .258/.336/.392 with 8 home runs and 58 strikeouts in 54 games for the Orioles after the trade, while Luis Ortiz made his Major League debut and surrendered 6 runs (4 earned) on 7 hits in his first 2.1 innings in the majors, walking 3 with zero strikeouts.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference