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.
The Brewers made some major additions to their roster over the winter, increasing payroll spending by close to 50% over last season’s total. With Opening Day now upon us and the 25 man roster finalized (at least for today) here is how things look payroll-wise as the Cream City Nine opens on the road in San Diego:
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. Also, Eric Thames has $500K in incentives available, Chase Anderson has $400K, Eric Sogard has $650K, Jeremy Jeffress has $2.2 mil, Boone Logan has $3.2 mil, Lorenzo Cain has $1.3 mil, Matt Albers has $1 mil, Ji-Man Choi has $650K, and Hernan Perez has an undisclosed amount of incentives built into his contract. Logan’s deal also includes a $625K buyout of his 2019 team option.
- 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.
- Jimmy Nelson will begin the 2018 season on the disabled list after undergoing shoulder surgery, and he won’t return until at least June at the earliest. Boone Logan and Stephen Vogt will also begin the year on the disabled list, but should be back closer to the start of May.
The most notable move that the Brewers have made since our last projection was cutting loose Yovani Gallardo, who received roughly $500K in termination pay instead of his $2 mil base salary. The Brewers also purchased the contact of Ji-Man Choi, who will earn a base of $850K while he is in the majors with another $650K in potential incentives. Given that he has a minor league option, though, it seems like he might spend his time going up and down between the minors and majors this year. It’s also worth noting that the Brewers reportedly have a deal in place for lefty reliever Dan Jennings, but the terms have not yet been reported.
For now, Milwaukee still carries one of the league’s lowest payrolls. Only nine teams are projected to come in below $100 mil in Opening Day payroll according to Spotrac, and only four franchises - the Pirates, White Sox, Rays, and Athletics - will have a payroll below the Brewers. But one thing Mark Attanasio recently noted was that the club was “keeping the powder dry” for possible in-season acquisitions, so there’s certainly a chance the Brewers will add to this total during the season if they are as competitive as hoped.